Daffodils, crocuses, cherry blossom – spring is the season of the new and with it comes a whole host of seasonal foods to complement the vitamin D you can finally reap from the sunshine again. “Spring is all about moving away from the heavy foods of winter, to choosing lighter, fresher, nutrient-rich ingredients,” says nutritionist Alix Woods. “Selecting foods that are in season means that they’re generally more flavoursome and nutrient- dense in comparison to their out-of-season counterparts.” For some tasty, healthy and benefit-packed food ideas, load up your shopping basket with these tasty all-stars and get ready to feel spring-fresh!
Hands down the most superior ingredient for a tangy crumble, rhubarb is rich in powerful antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins, giving it its bright red colour. “The redder the rhubarb, the greater the anthocyanin content,” says Alix. Poach with ginger and serve with a generous swirl of fresh, vanilla-laden custard for a simple, nutritious dessert.
Purple sprouting broccoli
At its tastiest, tenderest best between now and April, PSB has higher levels of antioxidants than green broccoli, according to a 2012 study. Anthocyanins star again, hence the deep purple colour. And along with vitamin K, “PSB is a top source of vitamin C, containing more than oranges,” says Alix. “Vitamin C contributes to the normal function of skin and the immune system – it’s easily destroyed by heat, so lightly steam or eat raw.” Utterly delicious tossed with fried garlic and sesame oil, or drizzled with a tahini dressing.
“This leafy green not only has a delicious peppery flavour, it’s also an extremely rich source of vitamin K,” says Alix. “In fact, just 34g contains more than 100 per cent of our daily requirement. Vitamin K contributes to normal blood clotting and can help maintain strong bones. Since it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, adding fat such as avocado or olive oil to watercress can help to increase absorption.” Layer it with avocado, grilled mackerel and horseradish on toasted sourdough, and drizzle with olive oil for a quick and nutrient- packed lunch.
A beautiful dark-green leafy veg that truly signifies the shift from winter to spring foods – it belongs to the brassica family, but doesn’t have the crunchy heart of cabbages and the leaves are more delicate. “It’s a source of folate, which contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue,” says Alix. It’s also packed with vitamin C. “To maximise the nutrients, either eat raw in a spring salad or only lightly steam,” says Alix. If you shred finely and fry it, it does a good job at imitating crispy seaweed.
Now is the time that you can buy these delicate little shellfish with a clear conscience, according to the Marine Conservation Society. Buy those that are hand-gathered or raked. “They’re a rich source of iron,” says Alix. “Just 100g provides up to 8mg iron and NHS guidelines are 8.7 mg/day for men and 14.8 mg/day for premenopausal women. Iron contributes to the normal formation of haemoglobin and red blood cells, which transports oxygen in the blood.” Adds Alix: “Vitamin C can increase the absorption of iron, so include some vitamin C-rich veg alongside.” Serving samphire seaweed or pea shoots with a classic spaghetti vongole is a winning nutrient/taste combination.
Gloriously tangy with a hint of raspberry, they pack a punch when it comes to nutrients. Anthocyanins pop up yet again (not common in citrus fruits), responsible for their deep red colour, and vitamin C features heavily. Setting out chunks of blood orange with grilled asparagus and feta, sprinkled with chopped hazelnuts and drizzled with vinaigrette is an antioxidant-rich dish you’ll want to serve all spring long.
Micronutrients made easy
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