For this week I want to look at the seasonal fruits and vegetables for November.
It is worth reminding ourselves that a high proportion of vegetables and fruits in the diet has huge health protection and if possible a meal plate should be at least 50% vegetables. Fruits and vegetables in season are cheaper, easily available and of a much better nutritional value than food that have been flown thousands of miles or that have been forced. They also taste much better. I always think of products that can be grown in the allotments or back gardens.
The foods to look out for this month are; Apples, pears, damsons, chestnuts. Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, Celeriac, Kale, parsnips, Pumpkin, squash and swede.
This month I am going to focus on Apples and onions. I know that we can buy them both all year around but not fresh from the tree or the ground as you can now.
Did you know that there are 7.500 varieties of known cultivated apples? The science of growing apples is called Pomology! Something that is new to me.
Obviously we can buy apples all year around but once we can start to pick them of the trees and buy locally grown apples than the benefits are much greater. Unless apples are organic or naturally grown and harvested they can be subject to many pesticides and sprays etc. I was surprised to find that some breeds like Granny Smith’s and Fuji apples can store for up to a year in ambient conditions before they are put out for sale. Having said that if organic are not available then any apples are better than none at all. This goes for any fruits and vegetables.
Health Benefits of apples Apples have a very significant level of phytochemicals including quercetin, catechin and chlorogenic acid which all have very strong antioxidant activity. Antioxidants help to protect the cell from damage by free radicals.
The most nutritious part of the apple comes just under the skin so wash rather than peel your apple to eat it unless of course you are unable to eat the peel. Apples are also rich in vitamin C for immune support.
Apples also contain high levels of pectin which is a type of insoluble fibre which helps to promote bowel regularity, relieving both constipation and diarrhoea. Pectin has also been shown to reduce levels of cholesterol.
Preparing and serving apples
- When I think of apples I immediately think of the spice cinnamon as the two seem to go so well together. Some stewed apple using either xylitol or Sweet Freedom as sweeteners with some cinnamon added is great on porridge, or stirred into natural yogurt or topped with some toasted seeds and nuts as a nourishing snack or used to top some mini pancakes.
- Apple also goes very well with the spice ginger and as we know ginger is very good for soothing the digestive system and helping to prevent nausea.
- One of the simplest ways to serve apples is the Baked apple. Simply core the apple keeping it whole with an apple corer. Fill the centre with mixed dried fruit and a little honey and bake in the oven till soft. This should take about 30 min. Depending on the size of the apple.
- Apples lend themselves very well to be added to salads like this Apple Carrot and Fennel salad. Take a bulb of fennel, 2 apples, 2 carrots washed. Cut them into julienne sticks and add a chopped red onion. Mix together and stir through some dressing made by mixing together 2 tbsp of lemon juice, zest of 1 lemon, 2 tsps of sweet freedom syrup, 4 tbsp of olive oil and some freshly chopped mint leaves. Very light fresh and delicious.
- Another very nutritious way to serve apples is Apple Walnut and pistachio crumble ( there is a link to a recipe below.
Onions are a member of the Allium family along with garlic, leeks, chives and shallots. I know that we can get onion all year around but like all vegetables when they are in season and growing locally their nutritional value is better.
Health Benefits of onions
Onion and fellow members of the Allium family have been shown under laboratory conditions to slow the development of cancer both through their protective action against the damage caused by carcinogens substances and their ability to prevent cancer growth. One of the carcinogens is the nitrates found in pickled and processed/cured meats and fish.
This possible protective effect is probably due to the phytonutrients found in the onions namely the allicin, quercetin and DAS (diallyl disulphide). These phytochemicals are released when the vegetables are crushed, chopped or chewed.
The phytonutrients have also been shown to support liver function and help to clear out toxins from the body. The Allicin has been shown to be a powerful natural antibiotic that help fight off infections and support immune function.
It is worth noting that that red onions have a higher content of quercetin than white ones. quercetin has been shown to have anti- inflammatory properties which may aid pain relief.
Preparing and serving Onions
- When preparing onions I have never met a full proof way of preventing tears apart from peeling them under running water because the Sulphur compound responsible for the tears is water soluble.
- Onions form the base of many savoury foods which makes them a very regular part of the diet.
- They also are eaten raw in dishes like coleslaw which I make using red cabbage and red onion with a chopped apple added to give a real boost of quercetin. Along with grated carrots. I dress this with walnut oil not mayonnaise to make it extra healthy and lighter to eat.
- Another very nice salad is to slice some sweet salad onions finely and mix these with some cherry tomatoes that have been cut in half, 2 tablespoons of flat leaf parsley that has been chopped and dress with the juice of 1 lime and some seasoning. This is super healthy because of the parsley rich in Iron, vitamin C and vitamin B6 which is good for hormone balance and adrenal support.
- Onions are delicious roasted. Simple peel and cut in half, lay on a roasting tin and sprinkle with olive oil and bake for about 30 min or until the onions are soft. This makes a good vegetable to accompany meals.
- Of course they are great added to other vegetables to make a vegetable roast. I put chunks of butternut squash, red onion slices, courgette slices, peppers and whole garlic cloves in a roasting tin and sprinkle with olive oil and bake for about 20 min till the vegetables are still slightly crisp.
I have purposely chosen onions and apples because they are so easily available and we sometime look beyond the obvious easily available foods, forgetting how nutritious.
I hope that you try some of these ideas and if you have any of your own you would like to share then please do
Blog originally written by Caroline November 2013