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21 May 2013 ,10:51 Eating seasonally: better for your health & your pocket
Earlier in the week I wrote about produce which was out of season and a long way from home. Here's why I believe eating sesonally is better for you - better tasting, better for your health and better value

Eating seasonally tastes better

To be transported over a greater distance or sold out of season, fruit and vegetables have to be picked before they are mature. Harvested unripe and unready, the produce is then stored under specific conditions which arrest its development. During this time in storage most immature fruit and vegetables won't improve in flavour or sweetness; the substances that give fruit and vegetables their flavour and aroma are fragile and easily lost.

In contrast, in season fruit and vegetables tastes better. Picked close to home and eaten at their peak readyness, fruit and vegetables have had time to develop flavour, texture and sweetness. You're getting the produce at its best.

Eating seasonally is better for you

In long-distance transport and long-term storage it's not just flavour that is lost, the nutrients degrade as well. By the time something is picked, packed, transported to market, sold to a retailer, stored at their shop, sold to you and then stored at your house, an average of 8 - 10 days has passed. For less perishable produce like apples, grapes, pears and pumpkins, this harvest-to-plate time can expand out to months or even a year. During this journey water soluble nutrients like vitamins C and the B group, along with certain antioxidants, degrade and lose their potency.

Plus, eating seasonally ensures you eat a variety of foods which means you get as many different nutrients as possible. For example, we don’t need antioxidants in large quantities, however getting a wide range of these important substances is a good idea. Antioxidants come in many different forms and are found in a range of foods. One of the best ways of ensuring your diet includes the variety and quantity you need is to consume a variety of fruit and vegetables.

If you pick what's in season the shorter the time from harvest to your dinner, plus you're guaranteeing variety. Asparagus, potatoes, cauliflower and zucchini are not always going to be available. Sometimes you may have to choose eggplant, sweet potato, capsicum and snowpeas, because that's what is in season. By choosing in-season produce you're ensuring the vegetables and fruit you consume will change over the year. What you're eating now will differ from what you consume in two months time and your diet will be more varied.

Eating seasonally is...

21 May 2013 ,09:29 Out of season and a long way from home
Asparagus from Mexico, garlic from China, grapes and cherries from the US, all have been available in my local supermarket over the last twelve months. Pears and apples remain in-store all year round, well past their winter prime. Along with citrus and melons it seems some produce never goes out-of-season.

Despite this seemingly unchanging supply, fruit and vegetables do actually have seasons. They only grow at certain times of the year, and under certain conditions. Some vegetables love the winter, they thrive in the cold weather and need a bit of frost to sweeten their leaves. While others seek out warmth; the sun's full rays to ripen, bring on colour and flavour.

For this constant, unchanging range of produce to be always available there are going to be times during the year when it hasn't come from your local area, probably not even grown in your country. At some point during the year the produce is either from overseas; or it's been picked immature and stored for many months; or it's been grown in a greenhouse, under artificially enhanced conditions. If you're a consumer seeking the best value, taste and nutritional benefit, these three growing and storing conditions are a problem. Moreover if you're also concerned about the environmental impact of what you eat, then out of season produce is something to avoid.

For me there is nothing better than eating fresh, local and in season produce. While mangoes and lychees are my absolute favourite fruits, I don't want to eat them all year round. How boring. Instead by choosing what's in season my eating naturally changes over the year. Much more interesting.
18 May 2013 ,17:37 Saturday Links
Great piece from Dr Khandee Ahnaimugan about we ight loss and exercise on the Huffington Post.
Gorgeous looking Persian Eggplant recipe on the Fig and Quince blog - "grilled eggplant, garlic, tomato and egg dish which melts in your mouth, as you scoop it in with fresh Persian bread". Sounds good to me.
Rachel Eats has cooked a beautiful tomato dish to go with pasta which "involves the saving grace of many-a-mediocre tomato: a flesh shriveling, flavour intensifying roast". Tomatoes are paired with anchovies, garlic and topped with breadcrumbs and rosemary.
I love that Wendy from A Wee Bit of Cooking gives two different dressing options for her Shredd ed Beetroot and Carrot Salad. You can choose between the kick of mustard or the zing of ginger.
On Twitter Elaine directed me to this practical, clever and idea-packed article on how to plant a personal garden in even the smallest of urban spaces.
07 May 2013 ,13:32 5 ways to use beetroot leaves
Did you know you can eat beetroot leaves? The leaves are delicious, like spinach, but with a slightly stronger flavour.
Beetroot leaves are also high in potassium, vitamin C, folate, carotenoid antioxidants and contain moderate amounts of iron. Which means when you buy a bunch of beetroot, you get two different and highly nutritious vegetables for the price of one.

5 ways to use beetroot leaves

  1. Larger beetroot leaves can be cooked, as you would spinach. A simple side dish I often make is to saute beetroot leaves with garlic and capers and then serving with a drizzle of olive oil, some black pepper and a good squeeze of lemon juice.
  2. The smaller, younger leaves can be eaten raw and are perfect added to salads and lettuce mixes, adding both flavour and colour. If you want to try something special make this delicious grilled haloumi and beetroot leaf salad from Nigel Slater.
  3. If you're making a spinach pie, add in some beetroot leaves, although be warned that it may well turn your filling slightly pink. There's a lovely looking beetroot leaf and ricotta tart by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
  4. You can also beetroot leaves in Indian cooking, for example in this dal recipe. I've made this a few times and it's quite delicious, plus it freezes really well.
  5. Martha Rose Shulman had the excellent idea of using both the beet-root and the greens, together with herbs, spices and feta, in vegetable fritters. It's a quite delicious and very pink, looking recipe.

About our Blogger

Kathryn Elliott
 Kathryn Elliott is an Australian based nutritionist, food writer and recipe developer.

About this Blog

A blog about food, healthy eating, seasonal ingredients and how to eat well in a busy life.

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