I’m a great believer in eating locally and seasonally but let’s face it, if we followed that rule 100% whilst living in the UK in winter we would be deprived of foods such as avocados, raw cacao, and bananas, and life would be very dull indeed!!
My morning green smoothies are made primarily of such foods with a good helping of superfoods for extra oomph. What would I do without them? I have a mild aversion to porridge, having suffered it as a child, and as an almost-vegan, good old bacon and eggs is out of the question too. I choose to eat a smoothie each morning to alkalise and hydrate my cells so that they have a good start to each day, and at this time of year I add freshly stewed apples with warming spices to heat them through.
Thankfully, days of turnips being our most prized possession (think good old Baldrick from Blackadder) are now well and truly behind us, and we have a worldwide palette from which to choose. Fruits and vegetables shipped from the East give our lives a touch of the exotic, and we are drawn too towards superfoods, powerhouses of nutrients from such places as South America. A superfood is basically a plant with exceptional nutritional properties, which is easily absorbed and utilised by the body. The problem with these is that they come at quite a cost and usually have more air miles than most of us!!
In my Juices, Smoothies and Nut Milks workshop I talk about superfoods, and divide them into three distinct camps: “Exotic”; “Humble”; and “Humble made super”.
Exotic are those just mentioned; the Humble made super are such things as fermented and sprouted foods, but what about the simple humble ones?
Humble superfoods are what we overlook, when making a beeline for the dragon fruit or avocados in the supermarket. They are the fruit, vegetable and herbs that have stood the test of time and nourished our ancestors for hundreds of years. If we give them a chance they can provide us with their own powerhouse of nutrients. I talk about just three below.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away”.
Sadly, the wide range of apples available in the UK nowadays is a mere nothing compared to say a hundred years ago, when different orchards over our green and pleasant land would have yielded hundreds of different varieties. Supermarkets give us very limited choices, and what’s on offer has usually come from abroad. So the first thing I would say is to buy apples from local growers such as farm shops. You’ll get variety and taste! As with all food, go for organic, because then your food in question will be packed with goodness, not toxins, and also carry a lot more nutritional clout.
So what has the humble apple got to offer ……..
- Vitamin C, Calcium, Magnesium, Beta-Carotene for starters.
- Also rich in pectin, a fibre which binds with cholesterol & toxins to escort them out of the body.
- Malic Acid, present in apples, helps to soften gallstones.
- Quercitin, a potent antioxidant, helps to inhibit the manufacture and release of histamine, so is great for those prone to allergies.
- Apple’s low GI (glycaemic index) is a great friend to those who have blood sugar problems as it doesn’t wobble blood sugar like other fruits do.
So your humble apple does quite a lot of good work!!
Broccoli is one of my faves. As well as the normal green variety, purple sprouting broccoli is out and about at the moment too, and a few stalks clumped together make quite a pretty posy!!! Apart from admiring it, though, I enjoy it lightly steamed!
What does Broccoli offer you?
- Being a beautifully dark green colour, it contains chlorophyll, which is hugely alkalising, rejuvenating, and anti-inflammatory
- Broccoli is rich in lots of nutrients including Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Beta Carotene, and Folic acid
- Broccoli (as well as other members of the cruciferous family) contains phytonutrients sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. Sulforaphane increases the liver’s capacity to detoxify carcinogenic compounds, and Indole-3-carbinol helps to suppress breast tumour growth.
Broccoli is lovely raw (I dip florets in hummus) but if its strange taste isn’t for you, and if you own a powerful blender (such as a Vitamix), it can be blitzed with some fruit to make a yummy green smoothie. If you prefer your broccoli cooked, however, remember not to cook it to death, as you destroy most of its goodness. Steam it lightly instead.
Nettles sting, so if you like foraging, take some thick gardening gloves with you (and scissors) and try to find nettles away from busy roads. They lose their sting when cooked, so are ideal in soups.
I like to brew up a regular cup of nettle tea. I confess that I buy a huge bag of dried nettle leaves; put 1 cup of them in a large Kilner jar with boiling water and leave overnight. I then strain, keep in the fridge and take so much each day, topped up with freshly boiled water.
The common stinging nettle packs quite a punch in the nutrition department, so let’s have a look at a few things that nettles can do for you.
- Rich in Iron as well as Vitamin C (which aids absorption of Iron). Being iron-rich, makes it a great candidate for those with anaemia.
- Also rich in Calcium and Boron, two key minerals needed for strong bones.
- It’s a gentle blood cleanser and detoxifier (so is good for conditions like arthritis and gout).
- It’s a natural diuretic, rich in potassium, so releases excessive fluid effectively without leaving the body depleted in potassium levels as most diuretic medications do.
- Nettles also contain anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine substances, so are good for allergy relief.
- Rich in sulphur and silica, nettles are also good for the health of your hair, skin and nails.
So you see, we have wonderfully health-giving, and not that expensive fruit, veg and herbs right under our very noses!!!
Always remember to buy organic so that you reduce the toxic load into your body (do you really want to eat pesticides?) as well as getting the very most out of your chosen buy.