As we come into May and things are really starting to feel like Spring, nature also provides us with an array of seasonal fruits and vegetables to tempt the taste buds and load up the body with nutrients.
Fruits and vegetables always taste so much better when they’re locally grown and are at their best nutritionally too. So, what’s on the menu for May?
Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her top five recommendations.
Jersey Royal Potatoes
The flavour of Jersey Royals is like no other potato! Their flavour and texture are just magnificent. This uniqueness is purely down to the growing conditions on the island of Jersey. Interestingly, around 99% of the crops are exported to the UK; Jersey Royals represent such an important part of the island’s economy.
Their nutritional value is not really any different to any other potato. However, all potatoes are rich in vitamin C which is easily lost during storage, hence Jersey Royals are going to retain this nutrient much better when new and in season. Additionally, potatoes are high in fibre, so are great for keeping the digestion in good working order.
Strawberries look almost too good to eat! Their beautiful red colour demonstrates the high levels of antioxidants they contain which help protect the body from free radical damage. Just as important is the great nutrient profile strawberries deliver including vitamin C (another key antioxidant), manganese (great for the joints), folate (essential for energy and protecting DNA) and potassium (good for the heart).
Interestingly, one of the many antioxidant compounds in strawberries are known as anthocyanins. They are responsible for their lovely colour and also help protect the heart from any damage and keeping it beating strongly.
At this time of year, strawberries are beautifully sweet, so just enjoy them as they are (or with a little cream as enjoyed traditionally at Wimbledon!)
Also called bell peppers because of their shape, they come in a variety of colours including red, orange, yellow and green. However, it’s the red ones that have most vitamin C, potassium, and folate. Additionally red peppers are especially rich in two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin which are great for the eyes and for protecting them from damaging blue light and macular degeneration.
Another great benefit to eating peppers of whatever colour, is that they’re super-versatile. You can eat them raw as a snack with hummus, roast them, make them into soups (tomatoes work really well alongside) or add them to chillies, stir fries or pasta dishes.
Marrows can often look a little strange because it’s perfectly possible for them to grow to a very large size (just like other members of the squash family), but they’re certainly nutrient loaded. Although marrows are high in water content, which also makes them low in calories and fat, marrows certainly don’t skimp on their nutrients. It’s important to eat them with the skin on as this contains good levels of immune-boosting beta carotene.
Marrows contain calcium which will help to keep bones healthy, plus vitamin C, essential for the immune system. Marrows are also high in fibre, therefore have been found to reduce cholesterol levels.
How to cook them? They’re delicious stuffed! Simply slice them in half, scoop out the flesh and then add a pre-prepared mixture of fried onions, peppers, garlic, chopped tomatoes, breadcrumbs and mixed herbs. Roast in the over for around 40 minutes and you’ve got a delicious dish.
Essentially spring greens are thick green leaves without the hard core often found in other types of cabbages. For this reason, they just need to be sliced quite thinly but then there are endless options of what to do with them.
In terms of nutrient content, just like peppers, they’re high in that all important lutein and zeaxanthin but are also a rich source of vitamin K, Vitamin C, and the mineral iron.
Spring greens work well with stronger flavours and with other vegetables, especially purple sprouting broccoli (also in season now). Just shred the cabbage, lightly boil both veggies and then stir fry with some olive oil, garlic, lemon, and sesame seeds.
Enjoy these five seasonal beauties this May!
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