Want to do your health and your waistline a big favour? The answer is simple – get back to basics. Eating fresh, locally grown, unadulterated, in-season produce is the easiest way to reset your body’s feel-good clock.
The cost of convenience
Too often today, our diets are a long way removed from what’s wholesome, simple and good. Unfortunately, when we trade fresh and natural for the perceived convenience of processed foods, it comes with a health cost. Whether it’s drive-through fast food or frozen meals and the like, we are at risk of consuming too much fat, salt and sugar, not to mention all those unpronounceable preservatives. When we eat simple, fresh foods, our body benefits.
Seasons and locality matter
The less distance produce travels from its origin, the better. Locally grown food is fresher, retains more nutrients – and you can taste the difference. Also, by eating what’s in season, you will be supporting small- and mid-sized local farmers. Plus you’ll be helping to reduce transport pollution, so there’s an added bonus of local produce being cheaper than ‘exotic’ out-of- season imports – everybody wins!
Eating fresh foods also helps to slow down the ageing process!
In season now!
With spring and summer approaching, a treasure-trove of nutrient-packed favourites start to come into their own. You’ll be spoiled for choice with nature’s bounty, but here are seven stand-outs, each with their own easy, healthy recipe to help you trim down and feel great.
Rich in vitamin C and A, a good source of fibre, low in kJs, zero fat.
Eat them: Straight up by the handful (washed first), or chopped into a leafy green salad with a dash of balsamic dressing.
Quick recipe: Blend 1 cup of strawberries, 1 banana, a handful of baby spinach, 1 tsp each of chia seeds and cinnamon powder, a dash of vanilla and some ice with 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk.
High in dietary fibre, beta-carotene, folate, B vitamins and vitamin E.
Eat them: Lightly steamed, stir-fried with chicken or lean beef, or blanched and sliced into scrambled eggs with a little parmesan.
Quick recipe: Toss whole spears with a little olive oil, cracked black pepper and crushed garlic. Grill in a single layer on an oven tray for about 5 minutes. They’re also fab oven-baked or from the barbie, too.
A source of protein, iron and zinc, high in fibre and vitamin C and K.
Eat them: Fresh from the pod, shelled and tossed into salads, or steamed as a side dish with grilled or lightly pan-fried whiting.
Quick recipe: For a reduced-fat guacamole, mash 2 cups of cooked peas with 1⁄2 a small avocado and some chopped fresh coriander. Stir in a diced onion, 1⁄2 cup of chopped tomatoes and a pinch of chilli flakes.
High in manganese, folate and fibre, source of vitamin C and potassium.
Eat them: Roasted whole with garlic and rosemary, paired with lamb and fingerling potatoes, or grated into a crisp salad.
Quick recipe: Juice 2 beets, 4 carrots and 1 apple with a small piece of fresh ginger for a cleansing treat. No juicer? Chop ingredients into pieces and liquify in a blender with 1⁄2 cup of water.
Rich in vitamin A and C, potassium, folate, and calcium, low in kJs.
Eat them: Raw in salads, lightly steamed, or stir-fried with chicken, lean beef or prawns. Also great when added to soups.
Quick recipe: Heat peanut oil in a wok and stir-fry 2 quartered bok choy bunches for 1 minute. Add sliced garlic, 1 Tbsp honey, 2 Tbsp soy sauce and 1 cup of shiitake mushrooms. Stir-fry for 2 minutes.
Loaded with vitamin C, fibre, antioxidants and phytonutrients.
Eat them: Sliced super-thin in a sandwich with turkey and lettuce, quartered and spread with a little peanut butter, or whole.
Quick recipe: Peel and core 2 apples. Mix 2 Tbsp brown sugar with 1 tsp each of ground nutmeg and cinnamon. Spoon into apples, then top with a little butter. Zap in a microwave on high for 4-5 minutes
Contain vitamin C and E, beta- carotene, folate, fibre, zero fat, low GI.
Eat them: Baked whole and topped with a sliver of butter and a little brown sugar, or pureed in a soup with leeks and carrots.
Quick recipe: Wash several large sweet potatoes, then slice into very thin rounds. Spritz with a little olive oil spray, sprinkle over sea- salt flakes and bake in the oven until crisp. Bingo, healthy chips!