seasonal

Jul 012016
 

SS: July - Cherries and Peaches

 

 

Summertime is prime stone-fruit time and my two favourites are cherries and peaches.

 

Cherries: When I was a little girl, I remember eating cherries straight out of a colander, freshly rinsed. I was taught that the darker cherries were sweeter and I would spend time examining the pile looking for the darkest cherries, with extra joy when I found twin-cherries joined by the stem. However, there are many varieties of sweet cherries which  come in a variety of colours from deep burgundy to bright red to yellow. When buying cherries, look for glossy firm skin and green stems. Cherries stay freshest in cold storage so make sure you keep them in your refrigerator rather than on your countertop (unless you plan on eating them straight away, in which case your countertop is perfectly fine). Cherries freeze well if you remove their stone, place them in a single layer on a tray in the freezer until frozen through, and then seal them in a freezer-bag. You can then throw these cherries into smoothies and desserts directly from your freezer.

 

Peaches: Peaches took me a little longer to appreciate because my mini-self objected to their lightly fuzzy skin, but I soon overcame that hurdle and enjoyed many moments of simple pleasure in the company of a perfectly ripe peach, it’s juice running down my wrist. Even now, I sometimes try to eat my peaches quietly away from the rest of the household to fully absorb myself in that moment of simple joy. When buying peaches, look for unblemished skin and a slight give when pressed with your thumb. Peaches come in a variety of shades from pale yellow to blush red to maroon, and can be large round orbs or small flat discs (my preference is for flat peaches). The scent of a peach is a good indicator of its taste. Peaches are delicate so make sure you carry them on top of the rest of your shopping rather than at the bottom (as I have learned the hard way). Peaches are at their peak in July and August.

 

* The produce above is in season in July in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, July seasonal produce includes papayas, mandarins and golden delicious apples.

 

 

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Jun 012016
 

SS: June - Berries

 

June is the start of summer and the month to look out for all types of berries. There are probably 1,000 great reasons to eat berries by the handful while they are in season, but the best reason is that they will be at their sweetest and juiciest at this time of year.

 

Look for shiny firm berries with a strong colour and avoid ones which are soft, bruised or leaking. Eat them on their own, or add them to yogurt, cereal, desserts or salads for a boost of fiber and the antioxidant Vitamin C.

 

Strawberries  ·  Raspberries  ·  Blueberries  ·  Blackberries

Mulberries ·  Bilberries ·  Black Crowberries ·  Boysenberries

Elderberries ·  Loganberries ·  Gooseberries ·  Blackcurrants ·  Redcurrants

 

 

* The produce above is in season in June in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, June seasonal produce includes pears, kiwifruits and kale.

 

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May 012016
 

SS: May - Rhubarb and Strawberries

 

 

Rhubarb and strawberries come into season roughly around the same time, with rhubarb making its appearance first and strawberries following soon after. They can be eaten separately of course, but they also work wonderfully stewed together with some brown sugar as a topping for desserts. Have a look at my recently posted recipe ‘Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote (with a hint of rosewater)’.

 

Rhubarb is a vegetable which is in season from around April to July. Only the stalks of the rhubarb are edible, with the leaves being toxic due to high levels of oxalic acid (so make sure you always discard your rhubarb leaves). Rhubarb is quite tart and some people dip it into sugar before eating it raw. I prefer stewing it with a little brown sugar and some fruit to make a topping for yogurt and desserts. Rhubarb freezes well, so you can chop it up and freeze it for upto 6 months to use later in the year.

 

Strawberries follow quickly on the heels of rhubarb, and are in season from roughly May to July. Strawberries are part of the ‘Dirty Dozen List’ of fruits and vegetables which should always be bought organic as they retain a lot of pesticides on their skin even after washing. Colour is more important than size , so look for bright red strawberries strawberries and avoid ones which have a lot of white at the top as this indicates that they have been picked too early and may not be as tasty.

 

 

 

* The produce above is in season in May in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, May seasonal produce includes apples, kumquats and broccoli.

 

 

 

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Apr 012016
 

Seasonal: April - Asparagus, Arugula and Grapefruit

 

April means that we’re well into Springtime. Here is what you should be snacking on this month:

 

Asparagus is in season from March until June, with April being it’s peak month. Raw asparagus has a taste similar to mangetout, and it can be eaten in many different ways. Thin and delicate spears can be eaten as is, while thick spears do well if you slice them thinly. You can dunk them in your favourite dip, throw them into a salad, or scatter them on top of virtually anything you’re eating. If you can’t quite get yourself to munch on raw asparagus, tossing them with olive oil and throwing them into a grill pan, panini press or oven to cook lightly will intensify their flavour to the more familiar asparagus taste that most of us are used to. Cooked asparagus can be kept in the refrigerator for upto three days.

 

Grapefruit is in season from winter until late Spring/early summer. Being rather bitter, grapefruit often gets neglected by some of us over the winter months because it has to compete with its sweeter counterparts like clementines, navel oranges and mandarins. However, by Spring a lot of the sweeter citrus fruits are past their best so grapefruit gets a chance to shine. Unless you are used to its bitterness, eating a grapefruit can be a difficult experience. Juicing it makes it easier, especially if you juice it with another sweeter fruit. Grapefruit works well in salad dressings too. I’ll be posting a recipe for Grapefruit Vinaigrette next week, so make sure you sign up for my ‘healthy reminder emails’ (in the right-hand column) or follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to see when I post the recipe!

 

Rucola (‘Rucola’ is the name in Italy, ‘Arugula’ is the name in the USA, and ‘Rocket’ is the name in the UK) is a spicy peppery leaf which thrives in Spring. If you like rucola’s spiciness, you can dress it simply with olive oil, vinegar and salt (shave some parmesan on that while you’re at it) for a simple side salad. However, if you find the zingy spiciness overwhelming, then mix it up with other leaves. It’s also a delicious addition to any sandwich or tossed into pasta. Throughout the month of April, have a stash of rucola (washed, dried and stored in a salad spinner) ready to use in the refrigerator.

 

Next week, I’m going to post the recipe for a salad using all of the ingredients above, so make sure you sign up for my ‘healthy reminder emails’ (in the right-hand column) or follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to see when I post the recipe!

 

Recipe: Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette

 

The produce above is in season in April in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, April seasonal produce includes Granny Smith apples, Valencia oranges and pomegranates.

 

 

 

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Mar 012016
 

SS - March: Radishes, Baby Spinach, Endives

 

 

March is here so start looking out for delicious new Spring vegetables!

 

Radishes come into season in spring. They tend to become spicier as the temperature gets higher, so spring radishes are milder than summer radishes. Look for firm radishes with fresh green leaves, and avoid any radishes which feel soft or spongey. To store radishes, chop off the green stems and leaves at the top because they pull moisture from the radish. The leaves are edible raw or cooked so make sure you store the radishes and the separated leaves in your refrigerator’s vegetable drawer.

 

Baby spinach is a cool weather vegetable which grows best in early Spring and in Autumn. Look for fresh dark green leaves which are not wilted. Baby spinach is extremely versatile and can be added into all sorts of food for a quick nutritional boost. It takes on other flavours well so it is wonderful in green smoothies (trust me on this – 80% spinach, 20% ripe fruit, plus some liquid and a touch of honey). A handful of baby spinach leaves in a salad or added into anything you are cooking is another easy way to incorporate this Spring vegetable into your diet. To make a delicious healthy spinach dip, see my recipe ‘Baby Spinach and Garlic Dip‘.

 

Endive season is September to May, with the peak of endive season around November. Spring is your last chance to eat these lovely bitter vegetables before they go out of season. Look for endives with fresh looking leaves which are not wilted and brown on the edges. Harvested endives tend to become more bitter with exposure to light, so you may want to store you endives wrapped in a paper towel in your refrigerator’s vegetable drawer. They can be eaten raw or cooked. If you find endives too bitter, mixing them with other leaves helps to balance their flavour. They also sweeten when roasted in the oven with olive oil.

 

 

SS - March: Radishes, Baby Spinach, Endives

 

 

The produce above is in season in March in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, March seasonal produce includes figs, plums and kale.

 

 

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Feb 012016
 

Seasonal Snacks:February 2016

 

February is the month to top up on the last of the season’s clementines and persimmons. These bright orange fruits bring sunshine into my kitchen through the winter months and this is probably the last month that you can get a good supply of them before they disappear for the next nine months (in the northern hemisphere).

 

These bright orange coloured fruits get their sunny pigment from an antioxidant called beta-carotene. Beta-carotene has many benefits, but it is especially helpful in maintaining beautiful skin and healthy eyes and vision.

 

Seasonal Snacks:February 2016

 

 

The above fruits are in season in February in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, February seasonal fruits include kiwifruit, mangoes and strawberries (lovely dipped in dark chocolate for a Valentine’s treat!)

 

 

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