By Juliette Bryant, nutritional consultant
We truly have access to a global food market these days. Blueberries are flown to the UK from Peru, green beans from Kenya and apples from New Zealand, all causing pollution and releasing carbon emissions as they go.
But despite the convenience of having our favourite foods available to us all year round, nothing beats the taste, flavour and nutritional quality of freshly picked, local goods. We are lucky to live in East Anglia, a region that is rich in good soil and has a great climate for food production.
From our gardens at this time of year, we can enjoy lettuce, dandelion and mustard leaves, spinach and herbs, such as parsley, mint, lemon balm, sage, rosemary and oregano. But there is also a wide range of wild food on offer too, which definitely ticks the boxes in terms of low food miles, seasonal freshness and packing a nutritional punch.
These include young hawthorn leaves and flowers (called “bread and cheese” by some locals), young lime leaves, chickweed and one of the most plentiful and nutritious crops at this time of year, nettles. Nettles make an excellent foodstuff as they have a higher iron content even than spinach and also provide an array of other minerals. They help alkalise the blood, detox the system and, being a green food, are packed with chlorophyll, which is one of nature’s magical components.
It is amazing how plants convert the sun’s energy into food that can sustain us. Each one interacts with the sun’s rays in different unique ways to provide us with a plethora of phytonutrients, which nutritional science is learning more about each day. But plants are also beautiful and ‘feed’ us in a spiritual way too.
Another one of my favourite seasonal foods is local asparagus. Asparagus takes patience and can be tricky to grow – it requires several years of effort to establish the trenches required to produce those delicious spears. It is also seasonal in nature, growing in the UK between February and June, but reaching its peak in April, which makes it all the more special when it is here.
As well as the vegetable’s ‘melt in the mouth’ flavour, there is also something quite appealing about its effects. An important belief in folk medicine terms from the Middle Ages up until relatively recent modern times was the ‘doctrine of signatures’. The idea was that foods resembling body parts had a beneficial healing effect on that area.
Walnuts, which when opened resemble a brain, are a classic example – and interestingly, we now know that they contain high levels of omega 3 fats, which is an essential nutrient for brain health.
The erect spear of asparagus also indicates one of its qualities as a libido-enhancing foodstuff. While easy to dismiss it as an old wives tale, recent research has shown that it contains high levels of B vitamins, including B6, which help to increase the histamine levels essential for a healthy sex drive. So there you go.
Juliette’s asparagus a gogo
1 bunch of local asparagus, with the woody ends removed
Lightly steam the asparagus, before putting it into a bowl with one teaspoon of coconut oil and a pinch of sea salt. Mix so that it is all coated nicely in the oil.
¼ cup cashew nutss
¼ tsp turmeric
3 tbs water
3 tbs extra virgin rapeseed or olive oil
pinch of salt
2 tbs lemon juice or half a lemon
1 tbs maple syrup
pinch of black pepper
Place all of the ingredients in a blender and whizz until it forms a smooth, creamy sauce to dip your asparagus into.
For more recipes, go to www.julietteskitchen.tv.
Juliette Bryant is an author, nutritional consultant, superfood chef and presenter who runs courses, talks, workshops and retreats around the world. Her passion is helping people to thrive by showing them how to make delicious and healthy food. Juliette runs a busy practice providing nutritional consultations to individuals and businesses worldwide.
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