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Health & Nutrition: Eat the Season




Eating in season can be beneficial for both you and the planet as Cambridge-based Nutritionist, Haley Bell, explains

It’s March, officially the month of spring. This is the time of year when bowls of warming soup get swapped for bowls of fresh salad. There is an abundance of seasonal vegetables available such as artichoke, beetroot, cabbage, carrots, chicory, cucumber, leeks, parsnip, purple sprouting broccoli, radishes, rhubarb, sorrel, spring greens, spring onions and watercress. Check out The Vegetarian Society website to find out when your favourites are in season.

Do you eat fruits and vegetables only when they are in season? Probably not as here in the UK it is perfectly normal to find berries outside of the British season, which runs from May to September, because they have been imported to the UK and travelled thousands of miles in the process.

We can reduce our carbon footprint by choosing to eat local produce when it is in season. This helps to support local farmers and the wider community – and fruit and vegetables often cost less as they are in high supply and have travelled less distance.

Spring seasonal salad(28188981)
Spring seasonal salad(28188981)
Nutritionist Haley Bell (28188972)
Nutritionist Haley Bell (28188972)

Eating seasonally not only makes sense for the health of the planet, but also for our health. Produce imported into the UK is usually harvested before it’s ripe, which means not all the nutrients have reached their full potential. As local produce is harvested at its peak ripeness it may contain more vitamins. The ripening process also converts starch to sugar giving increased sweetness; trust me there is a reason why brown bananas make great banana bread!

We are recommended to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, so why not try my spring salad recipe packed full of seasonal vegetables and locally grown chickpeas to work towards achieving the magic five. . .

Seasonal Spring Salad

Ingredients (serves 1)

120g dried chickpeas

1 tsp olive oil

½ tsp smoked paprika

50g quinoa

150ml water

50g carrots

50g red cabbage

2 stalks spring onion

40g cucumber

Optional

60g plain yoghurt

1 tsp lemon juice

Method

Soak chickpeas overnight (or for least six hours) in water. I recently discovered a company called Hodmedod’s who supply chickpeas grown just down the road in Thetford. Currently India is the leading chickpea producer in the world followed by Australia so it is great to see a local producer.

Drain and transfer chickpeas to a bowl then add olive oil, smoked paprika and mix. Grease a baking tray with a drizzle of olive oil and place chickpeas on the baking tray and put in the oven at 200oC/Gas Mark 6 (180oC fan oven) for 15-25 minutes.

Bring water to the boil in a saucepan over a high heat, rinse quinoa with cold water before adding it to the saucepan. Give it a stir, reduce to a low heat, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Drain off excess water and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving. Quinoa has a natural nutty flavour, but if you want a more intense flavour try adding a stock cube or herbs when cooking.

Next prepare the vegetables by grating carrot and red cabbage. Using a vegetable peeler create cucumber ribbons or to save time chop into batons. Top and tail spring onions and slice into small chunks.

Transfer cooked quinoa, roasted chickpeas and vegetables to a shallow bowl or throw it all into a container to take on the go.

Optional: To serve, add plain yoghurt mixed with lemon juice for a quick dressing.

For evidence-based nutrition information and tasty, nutritious recipes check out Haley on Instagram: @hb_nutritionist

Pictures by Jessica Nelson



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