Put a Spring in Your Step with Seasonal Produce
It’s the perfect time of year to start that new diet. Wave goodbye to those pesky cravings for rich, heavy comfort food that go hand in hand with the chilly winter weather and instead opt for crisp, zesty flavours and freshly-picked seasonal produce that packs a nutritional punch.
Why choose seasonal fruit and veggies?
Right about now, your local grocer’s or supermarket should be brimming with newly-harvested fruit and veg that have come straight from the farmer’s field – making it extra fresh, extra delicious and extra healthy. The longer the interval between picking and eating, the more nutrients are lost, so it’s always best to opt for fruit and veg that are in season if you can.
How do I know what’s in season?
Here’s your first tip: seasonal produce is usually cheaper, as it tends to be in abundance and hasn’t flown halfway around the world to get to your plate. It also depends on where you live. Here in Australia, spring is the best time to buy citrus fruits like lemons, grapefruit and oranges, as well as cruciferous vegetables – think broccoli, cabbages, brussels sprouts and cauliflowers. It’s also a great time of year to enjoy peas, asparagus, leeks and spinach (the perfect ingredients for a spring vegetable soup).
Your spring produce shopping list
All fresh fruit and veg score high on the nutrition scale, however some are better than others if you’re looking for a particular health benefit. Here’s our handy guide:
A high proportion of fruit and veg are low GI (Glycaemic Index) foods, which means they are digested by the body more slowly. This makes them ideal for people with diabetes who need to choose their carbohydrate intake carefully. Because they enter the blood stream slowly, foods with a low GI don’t have the same impact on blood glucose levels that higher GI foods can. Spring veggies that get the low GI tick of approval include mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, as do oranges and grapefruit. Be sure to eat bananas in moderation as their GI is in the medium range.
Most of us know that oranges are jam-packed with Vitamin C (as are all citrus fruits) but did you know that broccoli is an even better source? Cauliflower is also a Vit C high achiever, so pile your plate high.
Cruciferous veg are a great choice if you want to increase your soluble fibre intake, as are beets and artichokes, which also come into season in springtime. Bananas are another excellent source of fibre in plentiful supply at this time of year.
Those all-important B vitamins which support our metabolism and help the body convert carbohydrates, fats and protein into fuel can be found in abundance in peas, spinach, asparagus, and that nutritional all-rounder, the banana.
Need to boost your iron intake? Take a leaf out of Popeyes’ book and stock up on spinach, but don’t stop there. You’ll also find iron a-plenty in peas, broccoli and brussel sprouts.
Now you know how to pick the cream of the crop, check out our recipe section for ideas on how to serve up a spring-tastic feast. Feeling extra-inspired? Why not grow your very own bumper veggie crop.