Spring into Spring
As we enter the new spring season there is excitement in the air! Spring is a time for renewed energy, it is a time for growth and it is a time for transition. Our senses come alive as we feel the breeze getting warmer and we find joy in the days getting brighter and longer too. This change feels invigorating because it is a sign of new things to come; a sign that we wish to leave behind previous habits and form new healthier ones.
Nature plays a beautiful part in this transitional time because we start to notice the delicate flowers that begin to bloom amongst the lush green grass and also the fresh and vibrant produce that becomes available for us to enjoy in abundance too. We naturally start to transition away from the heavier meals we craved during the winter months and we start to gravitate towards lighter and fresher meals to nourish our bodies instead.
Our modern lifestyle has enabled us to become accustomed to enjoying any fruit or vegetable, at any time and during any season. However, it is more sustainable for the environment to eat seasonally and our bodies are naturally designed to enjoy foods grown within the season because that is the natural rhythm of nature.
Seasonal eating is best for optimising our health. In-season fruits and vegetables retain their high levels of vitamins and minerals because they are so fresh. They have not had to travel far so they retain their powerful phytonutrients which we benefit from. Moreover, the fresher and brighter the fruits and vegetables are the higher their polyphenols are too which helps to nourish our bodies and protect it from oxidative stress.
Seasonal eating gives us an opportunity to feel connected to our food, feel connected to nature and enjoy the broadest variety of plant-based fibre available to us. Fibre is important for gut health and a diet high in fibre is essential for a healthy gut because a healthy gut leads to us being healthier overall. It aids our digestion, improves our mood, strengthens our immune system, reduces inflammation and improves our metabolic health. We all have an inherent desire to nourish our bodies in the best way we can to ensure optimal health so eating seasonally makes perfect sense.
It also brings with it a real sense of joy! When we visit our local farmers market or supermarket and we stumble across a new offering of seasonal fruits and vegetables it provides us with a genuine excitement and curiosity to have been introduced to something new. We feel excited at the prospect creating new recipes or excited at the possibility of adapting a much loved recipe of ours to incorporate new foods.
I love creating new recipes and I am passionate about nourishing my body using nutrient-dense whole foods. So as we welcome spring, here are five of my favourite nutrient-dense vegetables which I will be cooking with this season to optimise my own health.
Globe artichokes and Jerusalem artichokes are excellent sources of fibre and can aid digestion. They have the highest antioxidant levels compared to all other vegetables and are rich in polyphenols and prebiotics promoting a healthy gut. They are also heart healthy and can strengthen our immune system.
Fennel can strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation. It helps to regulate blood pressure, is heart healthy and can improve skin health and aid digestion.
Leeks are high in antioxidants. They are also high in fibre and promote healthy digestion too. They contain anti-inflammatory properties and can may help to lower blood sugar levels.
Watercress has an impressive profile. It is packed with nutrients, is high in antioxidants, high in phytochemical and can boost immunity. It is excellent for heart health and skin health too.
Asparagus is excellent for improving digestive health, is a great source of antioxidants and can help to lower blood pressure too. It is high in nutrients and heart healthy also.
So as we welcome spring and embrace the new season’s delights we should feel inspired because, ultimately, we all want a little spring in our step and eating intuitively in the season can offer us exactly that.