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eat

Spring clean

Spring is a great time to take a look at your diet and make some changes. With the new intake of fresh and locally produced fruit and vegetables coming into shops and stores, there’s never a better time to embrace seasonal eating. Creating meals using fresh ingredients has so many proven health benefits it would take a month to list them all. So why not take advantage of spring’s new energy to revitalise your cooking and create some healthier options for you and your family?

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Rocket

Pep up a pizza or sandwich with this fiery little salad leaf. Our standard rocket packs a powerful punch but if you want a bit more heat, go for wild rocket which has smaller leaves that give a bigger dose of peppery flavour. It also makes the ultimate Italian tagliata, a bed of rocket served with shavings of parmesan and finely sliced, lightly fried sirloin steak and dressing.

Try this: create a rocket pesto by blending together a clove of garlic, sea salt, pine nuts and a large bag of rocket. Stir through some finely grated Parmesan cheese, a squirt of lemon juice and combine with olive oil until you have the consistency you require.

Cucumber

With its high water content, cucumber is the ultimate hydrating food while its satisfying crunch means it can help to satisfy hunger pangs. It is widely used as a garnish in salads and sandwiches but it is also the main ingredient in dips like raita and tzatziki where the cooling influence of yoghurt and cucumber works to complement more fiery dishes. Try a slice of cucumber in your gin and tonic this year instead of lime for a pleasant change.

Try this: for a simple salad, mix diced cucumber with sugar snap peas and torn mint leaves. Toss with rice wine vinegar and a little olive oil.

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Spinach

This loose-leaf vegetable is incredibly versatile and is generally available throughout the year. But it’s the smaller leafed baby spinach that really comes into its own for spring and summer dishes. The younger, smaller, baby spinach leaves are more tender and less bitter and best used for raw salads and sandwiches, whereas the older, larger leaves can withstand cooking better. Freshly picked vibrant spinach leaves should store well for up to a week in the fridge.

Try this: try adding spinach leaves onto a margherita pizza in the final stages of cooking. Crack an egg on top add let the egg cook and the spinach wilt.

New potatoes

Often known as salad potatoes, early crop potatoes are much smaller than their maincrop counterparts with a lovely, buttery flavour. Their size and texture makes them ideal for salads, boiled then cooled and tossed in a rich mustard and honey dressing. They are also delicious served as a side dish and often need nothing more than a little shake with a knob of butter and some seasoning.

Try this: halve small new potatoes and toss with olive oil. Add a few sprigs of rosemary, a good sprinkling of salt and roast in a hot oven for half an hour or until golden. Great for serving alongside mains at a BBQ.

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