Spring is upon us and with that a fresh harvest of fruit and vegetables. Read about the health benefits of Britain’s seasonal produce this March and try the cake recipe too!
Hello March! I think most of us are pleased winter is almost over and spring is upon us, bringing lighter, brighter and longer days. With the change in seasons, we get a change in fruit and veg. Having teamed up with my local produce store, The Maulden Farm Shop, I’m pleased to bring you some inspiration and info on some of nature’s seasonal gifts this March.
The versatile carrot gets the spotlight this month. Although carrots didn’t originate in Britain, they are our most popular root vegetable with 700,000 tonnes grown each year – that’s 100 carrots per person! Its popularity sees it in shops all year round. In the colder month’s carrots are great in soups and as part of a roast. In the summer, they work well in salads or as an easy snack.
Initially carrots were yellow, white and purple but the Dutch cultivated orange carrots as a tribute to William of Orange. The bright orange colour represents the nutrients found within the carrots. Most prominently is beta-carotene which converts in the body to vitamin A, supporting our immune, eye and skin health. Nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin are also found in carrots, and along with beta-carotene act as antioxidants – preventing and slowing damage of our cells.
Purple Sprouting Broccoli
This vegetable is a welcomed sight off the back of the winter months. It’s so hardy that it survives the frost and snow to bring us a March harvest with a splash of colour.
If you read last month’s blog you may recall that broccoli belongs to the brassica family alongside cabbage, spouts, cauliflower and kale – to name a few. That makes this vegetable a great support for our liver as it provides nutrients to support the natural detoxification processes.
Not only that but it’s packed with fibre which feeds the microbiome in our large intestine, helping them to thrive and in turn keeps our digestive system tip top*. Vitamin A, C and K are also found in purple sprouting broccoli, so you’ll be supporting your immune system while you enjoy this vegetable too.
*In some conditions a fibrous diet can exacerbate symptoms. Speak to a registered Nutritional Therapist about the right diet for you.
One of my favourites. Not only do I love the slightly bitter yet nutty flavour of artichokes, but I think they are one of the prettiest plants in the garden – see the blog cover photo for how they bloom!
Although my chef friends grumble at the preparation required (as you only eat the ‘heart’ of the artichoke) I believe it’s well worth the effort. This vegetable delivers in abundance, with vitamin C, K and folate, as well as important minerals like magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and iron. They also contain a healthy amount of fibre.
Artichoke leaf extract is also supportive of reducing cholesterol. Even though studies show it to be mainly effective in concentrated supplement form**, it illustrates just how the heart of this plant is supporting the heart in us – and that’s why I love natures food.
**Self-supplementation is not advised. Forms and dosages are specific to the individual and medication can interact with supplements. Discuss your personalised needs with a registered Nutritional Therapist prior to supplementing.
I like to round off these blogs with a fruit but alas, we have another vegetable. That said, rhubarb is often cooked, and its sour taste sweetened to be used in desserts. As it’s ripe and in season it feels only right to give it a mention.
Sprouting from the ground like celery, rhubarb has plump, bright red stalks. Another great source of fibre, packed with vitamin C to support our immune and adrenal health and perfect for picking in March.
It’s been a difficult time for many this past year. Looking after our immune system has been a priority but stress levels have naturally increased with the amount of uncertainty, cancelled plans, lack of social contact, home schooling and work pressures. Stress puts a huge demand on our adrenal glands which require vitamin C. With that in mind, I thought this month’s recipe might be very welcome. I hope you enjoy it!
March’s seasonal recipe
Rhubarb, carrot and ginger cake
- 260g plain or spelt flour (or GF plain flour)
- 50g ground almonds
- 40g coconut or organic raw cane sugar
- 240-260g rhubarb, chopped into small pieces (save half for the topping)
- 130g carrots, grated finely (press into absorbent paper to dry them out)
- 220ml milk of your choice
- 20g raw maple syrup
- 1 tbsp chia seeds, ground
- 3 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 4 tsp ground ginger
- A pinch of sea salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/gas 4 and grease a large cake/baking tray (I tend to use the left-over butter foil, but coconut oil works well too)
- Add the dry ingredients to a large bowl and stir to combine before adding the wet ingredients and stirring well to bring the ingredients together
- Fold the rhubarb and carrot into the mixture before pouring into the baking tray
- Spread the remaining rhubarb pieces on top and bake for 30-35 minutes – if the cake starts to brown too much, cover with foil
- Remove from the oven and leave it to cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from the baking tray
- Slice and serve either cold or a little warm