Spring is just around the corner and for many of us this means a change to our diet and eating habits. Whatever your goal is, eating seasonally or boosting your diet with some superfoods is sure to support your health during spring and into summer.
Here I have selected 5 key superfoods which I believe are a beneficial addition to the diet come spring!
Pineapple contains manganese which helps the body to metabolise carbohydrates and is also a powerful antioxidant. Pineapple also contains bromelain, an enzyme that helps to digest proteins and which exerts anti-inflammatory activities in the body and may assist to break down mucus associated with allergies and hay fever! Pineapple is also a good source of vitamin C, which helps to support immunity as we move through spring and protects the skin against sun damage.
- Dice, freeze and add to smoothies for a creamy texture
- Finely dice and toss into salads alongside spinach
- Add to Asian stir-fries
- Top on muesli or serve with yoghurt and seeds as an express breakfast
Cabbage may seem like a very ‘ordinary’ pick of the bunch but its super food properties are underrated. Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable and contains vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, magnesium and manganese. Cabbage also contains glucosinolates, a powerful compound which may offer protection against cancer and exert antibacterial effects. Eating cabbage is also a good way to boost fibre intake and provide fuel for our gut bacteria to feed off. Red cabbage specifically, is high in anthocyanins, a polyphenol that exerts antioxidant properties. If cabbage doesn’t float your boat, brussels sprouts are an equally as nutritious pick!
- Shave and turn into a salad using a tahini or yoghurt dressing
- Shred finely and add to stir-fires or ‘fried’ rice
- Roast and serve as a side
- If you have a bit more time up your sleeve, try making stuffed cabbage rolls or turn into kimchi or sauerkraut
While legume pasta such as chickpea pasta, edamame pasta and mung bean pasta has been around for some time now, spring is the perfect time to tuck in! This is especially if you are looking for a lighter ‘comfort food’ option. Legume pasta boasts more protein and fibre compared to traditional pasta, both of which combined, will make you feel fuller for longer. In addition, we have been told to eat more plants over meat and adding legume pasta to your diet is a very delicious and satisfying way to cut down on meat.
- Serve with your favourite pasta sauce
- Toss through pesto and add roasted veg for an express meal
- Toss through spinach, avocado and pan-fried tofu for a warming salad
Sweet potato is another every day food which many of you may be surprised to see make the list! However, sweet potato offers lots, nutrition wise, and its popularity is well earned! Specifically, sweet potato is a great carbohydrate choice because it contains fibre and offers a sustained release of energy. This helps to keep blood sugar and appetite levels stable, which assists with weight management. It also contains beta-carotene, the precursor to Vitamin A. Beta-carotene acts as an antioxidant in the body and is known to protect against free radical damage from ultraviolet exposure, which is ideal for the increased sun exposure most of us face during spring. Additionally, sweet potato is loaded with B vitamins, which the body uses to convert food into energy along with vitamin C which helps support immunity and the absorption of iron.
- Roast or steam and serve as a side or toss through salads
- Steam and puree as a side
- Add to curries and stews
- Grate and add to veggie/meat patties or Bolognese sauce
- Mash and add to baking mixes eg cakes, muffins and slices
- Roast, cut in half, hollow out and stuff with your favourite toppings!
Saffron comes from the flowers of Crocus sativus and is thought of as a very luxurious ingredient! Price aside, saffron is also know for its health promoting abilities such as being high in antioxidants and more of late, studied for its role in supporting a health mood, most likely due to its anti-inflammatory effects. If you have come out of winter feeling a little lack lustre, spring is the perfect time to add some saffron to your cooking as the vibrant colour alone will be sure to put a spring in your step!
- Use in curries and stews
- Stir through pilafs and rice/cauliflower rice dishes
- Use in marinades
- Add to homemade desserts for a subtle taste and vibrant colour