We all know vegetables are good for us, so boost your immune system the natural way by incorporating a rainbow of fruit and vegetables into your everyday diet. Research shows that the greater the diversity of colour, flavour and type of vegetable or fruit in your diet, the more health benefits you derive. So shake-up what you already know and try some new ideas…
When this winter vegetable is fresh, tender and lightly steamed, it doesn’t need any embellishment. As the season progresses, it does benefit from some help – a white sauce, as a filling for cauliflower cheese or the main ingredient in a classic Indian curry or biryani. To help inject some cheeriness into the new year, look out for the beautiful, vibrant pink or purple cauliflowers that are becoming increasingly popular at farmers’ markets and farm shops.
Try this: try adding a strong blue cheese such as stilton or Roquefort to a cauliflower soup for a burst of flavour.
Ok, so they are not a locally-grown fruit, but these little balls of sunshine are just the thing to brighten up any wintertime blues. They are also a great immune booster, providing a healthy dose of vitamin C at the time of year when we need it most. Choose small fruits that soften when pressed for juicy sweetness. While clementines are the ideal fruit to pop into lunch boxes, they can also be used in cooking, to sweeten a stock or gravy, served with pork chops or in salads and are delicious when used in baking.
Try this: make a clementine version of a lemon drizzle cake by replacing the lemon with clementine zest and juice in your usual recipe.
Sometimes it’s the small things that can make all the difference – in cooking the way you dress and present your food can enhance a person’s experience and enjoyment of what they are about to eat. Pomegranate seeds are a simple chef’s trick that instantly elevates your dish. Simply scattering these bright coloured jewels over dishes adds drama and excitement and a wonderful burst of colour. They work brilliantly as garnishes for couscous and Persian rice dishes, but also add vibrancy to a fruit platter or salad.
Try this: add pomegranate seeds to cooked couscous. Stir in some mixed herbs, orange juice, white wine vinegar and olive oil.
Thanks to its associations with Popeye, spinach has long been regarded as a super food, full of vitamins and iron. It’s still a widely used leaf, turning up in all manner of dishes from pancakes to pasta and casseroles to curries. Spinach and ricotta is one of those classic combinations that pleases everybody, but spinach can also be enjoyed as a side dish in its own right.
Try this: fry off a couple of cloves of chopped garlic in some olive oil. Add a bag of spinach, season and let it wilt for a minute. Drain then put the pan back on the heat with a knob of butter. Add the drained spinach and squeeze over the juice of half a lemon. Give it a stir, check the seasoning and serve.
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