The first three months of 2016 have absolutely flown by, I can’t believe it’s already April! Now that the clocks have gone forward and the days are getting longer, it’s really beginning to feel like Spring. It’s my favourite time of the year, I always feel so much more energised once I’ve ditched my Winter coat.
I also love this time of year because of the veggies that come into season. Seasonal foods are fresher, so they tend to be tastier, more nutritious and cheaper. Your local farmers market is a great place to source fresh fruit and veg, plus you’ll be supporting local businesses and making sure that the food hasn’t travelled too far to reach you (which is more environmentally friendly too!)
Now it’s April, there’s no excuse not to buy nutritious veggies! If you need some inspiration, here are my top four seasonal spring greens:
- Purple sprouting broccoli
Versatile and vibrant, purple sprouting broccoli will add a great crunch to your meals! It’s packed with vitamin C and is a great source of vitamin A, calcium, fibre, folic acid and iron. On top of that, it contains the phytochemical sulphoraphane which is thought to help prevent certain cancers and may also provide resistance against heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes.
Serving suggestion: purple sprouting broccoli can be used in a similar way to its cousin. I like this Delia recipe for steamed purple sprouting broccoli with a chilli and sesame dressing.
Asparagus packs a nutritional punch, providing great sources of fibre, calcium, iron, potassium and vitamins A and C. It also contains more folate than any other veggie, which is essential in the synthesis of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Those neurotransmitters are responsible for maintaining and improving your mood, so folate is a great addition to your diet!
Serving suggestion: asparagus can be enjoyed on its own! I like to plate up about 8 asparagus spears, and sprinkle them with chopped tomatoes and chopped olives, I then top it with pine nuts and a drizzle of lemon juice.
Spinach is well known for its nutritional qualities. Vitamins A and C are present in significant amounts, as are several antioxidants and folic acid. Spinach has a distinctive taste, – I like to think of it as a ‘love it or hate it’ food. It’s available all year-round, but the freshest and tenderest spinach is available in Spring.
Serving suggestion: Milder and younger spinach leaves can be eaten raw in a salad. The older ones are usually cooked. I like backed eggs with spinach!
With its pungent, slightly bitter and peppery flavour, watercress is one of the strongest-tasting salad leaves available. It’s highly nutritious, containing significant amounts of iron, calcium, vitamins A, E and C.
Serving suggestion: watercress is good in salad (I recommend using it instead of rocket), and can also be delicious in soup.