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Health Tips

Spring: what’s in season and how to use it!

By 03/09/2018 No Comments

It is officially spring, a season when many of us think about what we need to take out of our diet in order to prepare for summer or ‘get back on track.’ However, this year, instead of focusing on what to remove from your diet, change your mindset and think about which seasonal ingredients you can add to your diet to best support health and happiness. To get you started, here are my seasonal picks for spring!

Leek

Leek not only adds flavour to dishes but is also a source of prebiotics. If you aren’t familiar with this term, prebiotics are carbohydrate-containing foods known to resist digestion in the small intestine and therefore reach the colon where they are fermented by gut flora. In fact, prebiotics can favourably alter the composition of gut bacteria, specifically, the growth of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, two beneficial probiotic strains. Prebiotics also:

  • support the production of short chain fatty acids, important to protect against colon cancer;
  • reduce the ability of bad bacteria to grow;
  • increase uptake of minerals such as calcium; and
  • may improve overall immunity.

If you are looking to improve gut health post winter, honing in on making sure you are eating sources of prebiotics alongside your probiotics may be of benefit and leek is one way to achieve this!

How to use:

  • sauté just like onion and use in the base of soups and sauces
  • roast whole and serve as a side or in warm salads
  • sauté and add to omelettes or scrambled eggs

Fennel

Fennel is well known for its aniseed flavour and is also a good source of vitamin C, magnesium, iron, calcium and potassium. Fennel works well raw or roasted and added to salads especially warm salads. Its earthy yet fresh flavour makes it the ideal vegetable to enjoy during spring.

How to use:

  • remove outer casing, finely shave and add to salads especially alongside orange, goat cheese and olives
  • cut into quarters, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and chilli flakes, bake for 30min until soft – add to salads or serve as a dinner side
  • finely slice and place under fish when making parcel baked fish

Green Peas

During spring, you will start to see fresh green peas pop up at your local green grocer or the markets. If you usually bypass peas, I encourage you to give fresh peas a go. Fresh peas are not only a source of fibre but also protein, iron and vitamin C. Cooked and cooled peas can also offer a source of resistant starch – starch which cannot be digested and goes straight to the colon to feed bacteria, another way to support gut health.

How to use:

  • boil and let cool, add to pesto or hummus for a protein and fibre packed dip/dressing
  • toss into salads or stir-fry’s for added crunch
  • simply eat a la natural, straight from the pod!

Pineapple

Pineapple is a nice pick during spring because it contains the enzyme bromelain, which is known for its mucolytic properties and has been traditionally used to help breakdown mucus. This makes it a useful food during allergy season to help relieve symptoms. Pineapple also contains vitamin C, a useful antioxidant to protect skin during increased sun exposure and helps to support the immune system during the change in season.

How to use:

  • Remove skin, dice and add to smoothies – freeze leftover pineapple in chunks for a quick smoothie addition
  • Dice and combine with diced avocado, chilli, lime juice and coriander to create a quick salsa for pineapple or fish
  • Add to salads – a nice combo is kale, blueberry, quinoa and pineapple

Avocado

I am sure you aren’t surprised by this pick! Avocado contains healthy monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, fibre and an array of vitamins and minerals to support overall wellbeing. Due to avocados fat content and creamy texture, it is a healthy way to lighten meals but still have the same creamy taste post winter.

How to use:

  • Puree with coconut milk, garlic, lime, ginger, tamari/soy for a creamy salad or pasta dressing
  • Dice and add to salads, smoothies and salsas
  • Add to smoothies and freeze the remainder in ice-block moulds for a quick treat

Cherries

Too many of us reserve cherries for Christmas time only despite the many health benefits of cherries! Cherries are packed full of antioxidants, which help to fight free radicals, support immunity and slow the aging process. Cherries also contain calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C and fibre.

How to use:

  • Remove pip and add to salads and smoothies
  • Sauté in sauces or add to a berry compote
  • Roast and serve with yoghurt and nuts/seeds as a quick snack

Watercress

If in the mood for more salads during the warmer weather, this season, try using watercress as your leafy green. Watercress has one of the highest nutritional content compared to other leafy greens in addition to being a ‘bitter,’ which helps to stimulate digestion and liver detoxification processes.

How to use:

  • Add to salads, juices or smoothies
  • Toss through scrambled eggs
  • Blend into a pesto or green dressing