Suzie Sawyer – Nutritionist
Most of us know that eating foods when they’re naturally in-season delivers the best nutrient content. Unfortunately, the diet can frequently be derailed during the Festive season, meaning our body might miss out on essential nutrients. With that in mind, here are five seasonal foods that will pack a punch nutrient-wise and also deliver some great tastes, with recipe suggestions. There may even be some new ideas for you too!
Whilst they might seem to be an unusual choice, Jerusalem artichokes are worth seeking out in the supermarket, local veggie store or farmer’s market. They provide great health benefits and a wonderful taste too.
One of their top health benefits is that they help to feed our beneficial gut bacteria. This may improve mood and motivation because a healthy gut microbiome supports the production of serotonin, our ‘happy’ hormone. It may also help to avoid winter SAD (seasonal affective disorder), which affects many people, making them feel low through the cold, dark months.
Jerusalem artichokes are delicious simply chopped lengthwise and roasted in the oven with a little olive oil.
Cranberries are of course in season now and really conjure up wonderful thoughts of Christmas meals. However, they’re far too good to only be eaten once a year with your turkey; cranberries offer some great health benefits too.
Cranberries are packed with immune-supportive antioxidants, including vitamin C, so are great to eat at this time of year when the immune system generally needs care. Plus, cranberries are brilliant at fighting urinary tract infections; they stop bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall. If you’re prone to bladder infections, then the best advice is to regularly drink sugar-free cranberry juice and include dried cranberries in granola or muesli recipes.
Celeriac is often called ‘the ugly one’ because of its very rough physical appearance. However, this certainly doesn’t detract from its rich nutritional benefits and delicious, slightly earthy taste.
It’s part of the celery family and, just like celery, is rich in potassium which is great for the heart. Both vegetables, therefore may help to manage blood pressure.
Celeriac is not the easiest to prepare as it’s quite difficult to peel. However, it’s great as a vegetable side, mashed with butter and black pepper. Even better, celeriac can be roasted whole in the oven which means it doesn’t even need to be peeled! Wash the outer skin and cut off the top. Sprinkle with some olive oil, garlic, herbs and seasoning. The celeriac should then be wrapped in foil and cooked in the oven for around two hours. Once cooked, it’s easy to spoon it out of the skin and serve with a knob of butter.
Apples are of course a fruit staple for many people; they’re great as a portable snack but also incredibly versatile in recipes. Even better they deliver some great health benefits when the body needs them most during the winter months.
Apples are packed with pectin fibre which helps to keep cholesterol levels under control. Plus, they’re rich in vitamin C to support the immune system during the winter months.
Interestingly, apples are also used to make apple cider vinegar, which has a long history of health benefits, as well as plenty of anecdotal gains. Apple cider vinegar can certainly help with digestion, but people have also commented on it easing joint pain, and supporting weight loss and skin health.
Kale, with its rich dark green leaves, is in season right now and certainly ups the ante, nutrient-wise. It’s packed with vitamin K, which is heart-protective and folic acid and iron for great energy. Kale is also full of fibre and low in calories and fat – a real winner!
Some people may find kale’s fairly strong flavour slightly off-putting. However, it makes an excellent addition to any pasta dish, particularly a super-healthy green one with broccoli, spinach and parmesan. The flavours combine really well. Add some fresh herbs and garlic, and you’ve got yourself a wonderful mid-week meal to keep you running up until Christmas!