It’s here! The British summer has finally arrived and with it some glorious fruit and vegetables that bring colour to our plates and juice to our chins.
British summer fruit and vegetables
I’m writing this blog in 28 degree heat and I couldn’t be happier! I hope you’re all enjoying the arrival of the sunshine and some warmth with it. It’s been a long time coming.
As the sun beats down, we also get to harvest some of Britains best fruit and vegetables that we’ve eagerly been waiting for across the colder months.
I’ve pulled a few of these seasonal blogs into one as I got carried away with the list of produce we can get stuck into over the summer – yum!
Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, Gooseberries, Cherries. I love berries! For me, nothing tastes better than seasonal berries. They are juicy and the flavour is on point.
Although they taste sweet, berries are actually lower in sugar than other fruits. They also contain a good amount of fibre so as well as feeding you, they feed you beneficial gut bacteria too.
That stunning bright colour is the result of antioxidants called anthocyanins. Not only is it responsible for naming them look good but it helps us look good too. Anthocyanins help to slow and even prevent cell damage. Keen to slow ageing anyone?
Belonging to the root vegetable bunch, beetroot is a quick growing British vegetable that comes in a variety of colours but is best known for it’s finger staining purple.
Beetroot contains many vitamins and therefore has many benefits but it tends to be best known for its affects on lowering blood pressure. Each bulb of beet has high levels of nitrates which the body converts into nitric oxide. This dubious-sounding compound is vital for many aspects of our health but in particular it helps to lower blood pressure by widen blood vessels.
One of my favourite leafy greens! Rocket can be used for so many different benefits that I find myself recommend it quite frequently in clinic. It’s a bitter, a brassica and a brilliant source of nutrients.
Bitters are a good starter options before a main meal. They help to encourage digestive enzymes and stomach acid to assist adequate breakdown of food.
Brassicas (which I spoke about in February and March’s blog too) are a source of isothiocyanates – a compound that supports phase II liver detoxification which is vital for clearing toxic substances and keeping healthy.
Brilliant nutrients in rocket include calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamins C, E, K and folate as well as beta-carotenes for skin health, lutein and zeaxanthin for eye health and chlorophyll for our immune system. Boom!
Rashes and rocket both have a slightly peppery flavour. Why? Blame those isothiocyanates coming through in force. Radishes are also part of the brassica/cruciferous vegetable family.
Growing in several different colours, these little salad additions are quick and easy to grow at home along side some rocket (see where I’m going here?). Slice them in a salad or use them to dip in humous (yum!) and enjoy the isothiocyanates and antioxidants.
Love it or hate it, celery is a British classic and full of some of the best nutrients.
Celery contains 12 different antioxidants which help to protect against free radicals that can damage cells. It also has a bunch of nutrients that support the immune system, reduce inflammation, balance blood pressure and control blood sugars.
These stalks are also hydrating and packed with fibre too so your digestive system will love it (even if you don’t).
I couldn’t wrap up a British summer produce blog without the glorious tomato getting a mention (I’m very unsuccessfully trying to grow some this year).
Tomatoes are a major source of lycopene – a specific antioxidant linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. But before you munch a whole punnet straight out the fridge – delicious as it is – lycopene is captured in the cell walls of the tomato and released when heated a little.
So on a low-medium heat, with some single estate extra virgin olive oil, give your tomatoes a warm up in a pan before devouring the punnet – YUM!
Healthy sweet summer recipe
Quintessentially British – but healthy – Eton Mess
1 large or 4 mini meringue nests
500g fresh berries
450g Greek yogurt or dairy free alternative*
- Use the back of a spoon to crush the meringue nests into bite-size pieces
- Combine the crushed meringue nests and yoghurt together before adding the berries
- Serve in 4 glasses or bowls – top with sliced strawberries or more crumbled meringue
- And enjoy your healthy quintessentially British dessert!
* Coconut yogurt has more fat and is not as high in protein as Greek or soya yogurt. Protein fills us up for longer and reduces the energy intake of this delicious dessert.
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