There is something very fulfilling about eating with the seasons.
Making a trip to the local farmers market, seeing what’s available, and indulging in the beautiful fresh (and often organic), local produce is a foodie's dream; the food is fresher than imported produce not of the season, it’s more flavourful than anything frozen or refrigerated, and buying seasonal produce tends to be easier on the pocket and it allows you to support your local farmers. In winter, it’s natural for us to lean towards hearty foods that will help keep us warm, whereas in summer our bodies crave light, fresh, raw foods, because those foods give us the right energy for the season — a big part of the reason why it’s so much healthier to eat with the seasons.
If you are not sure what is in season, a trip to your local farmer’s market should clear that up for you, or you can use this as a guide. Another wonderful thing about eating seasonally is that if you grow anything yourself, there is nothing more exciting than seeing the fruits of your labour (pun intended) growing, and using your own fresh homegrown bounty in your healthy cooking. So let the season help you determine your menu and with spring around the corner, your dishes are bound to be fresh, flavourful and exciting. These are some of our top recipes for each meal of the day during the enchanting season of spring — the perfect time to start experimenting with healthy cooking.
Many people skip breakfast — some see it as a way to lose weight, others do it because of the nature of their busy lives, but the truth is, breakfast is definitely one of the most important meals of the day, and you just can’t afford to skip it. With all of the incredible produce available during spring, a great way to start the day would be to forgo the healthy cooking entirely, and put all the ingredients in a juicer or a blender — perfect for a good dose of raw (yet, easily digestible) fruit and veg, and ideal for those who need a quick, healthy breakfast on the go. Here’s an amazing spring power smoothie recipe to kick start your day taken from Caroline-W:
Half a bowl of fresh organic strawberries
1 kiwi cut into slices
1/2 an avocado
1/2 a banana
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
1 big glass of almond milk (try to find one that is made of organic raw almonds, with nothing else than purified water) OR you can make it yourself if you are a warrior!
Put all the ingredients in a blender with a few ice cubes and then, top it off with some toasted coconut flakes and/or a dash of organic raw cacao nibs. I personally use crushed toasted coconut flakes (that I make regularly and keep in a jar to toss them on salads, smoothies, fruits, soups….).
Spring is a great time to embrace healthy cooking. With ample fresh ingredients and flavours, there’s no limit to the incredible combinations of food you can create and it’s the ideal time to experiment with flavours and combinations. Spring brings gorgeous flowers, the smell of honey to the air as well as baby beets, asparagus, artichokes, morels, kale, cauliflower, leeks, potatoes and much, much more.
For your lunchtime meal we suggest this light and delicious lentil salad, with spring greens, asparagus and egg taken from The Year in Food:
For the lentils:
1 cup of rinsed, green or puy lentils
Optional additions: 1 carrot, roughly chopped; 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped; thyme or parsley leaves; 1 bay leaf; 1 dried chili or chili flakes
For the salad:
2 or 4 eggs (depending on how many you’d like on your salad)
2 Tablespoons butter, ghee, or coconut oil
1/2 pound asparagus, sliced on the diagonal
1 bunch Easter egg radishes, rinsed and halved lengthwise
1 lemon, halved
8 cups mixed spring greens
Small handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Small handful of fresh chives, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Flaky sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
In a large pot, add the lentils and aromatics, and cover by about two inches with water. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low, simmering until lentils are soft and cooked through, about 45-60 minutes. Set aside to cool in their liquid.
For the eggs, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, add the eggs and set a timer for 7 minutes. (A little longer for a firmer yolk.) Remove the eggs and plunge into an ice bath to cool. Peel and set aside.
In the meanwhile, heat a large grill pan or sauté pan over medium heat. Add the butter, and let it melt and get frothy. Add the asparagus, radish, and lemon halves and sauté without disturbing to brown them a little. Toss and stir as needed to evenly cook.
To make the salad, combine 2 cups of cooked, drained lentils with the salad greens and fresh herbs. Add a generous glug of olive oil and vinegar and toss. Top each salad with half of the radishes and asparagus, and one-half of each lemon. Finish with a generous sprinkle of flaky sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, and a squeeze of the lemon.
Dinner does not have to be a laborious chore, and you may find that if you cook seasonally, healthy cooking will become easier, and you won’t find yourself constantly out of inspiration for healthy, tasty meals. While making a casserole may seem counter-intuitive on a warm spring evening, once you try this incredible and fresh spring chicken casserole, taken from BBC Good Food, you will never look back.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
500g boneless, skinless chicken thigh
300g small new potato
425ml low-salt vegetable stock (such as Kallo low-salt vegetable stock cubes)
350g broccoli, cut into small florets
350g spring green, shredded
140g petits pois
bunch spring onion, sliced
2 tbsp pesto
Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan. Add the onion, gently fry for 5 mins until softened, add the chicken, then fry until lightly coloured. Add the potatoes, stock and plenty of freshly ground black pepper, then bring to the boil. Cover, then simmer for 30 mins until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked. Can be frozen at this point.
Add the broccoli, spring greens, petit pois and spring onions, stir well, then return to the boil. Cover, then cook for 5 mins more, stir in the pesto and heat through.
In short, snacks in spring are abundant, you just pick up any of your fresh produce, give it a clean and munch it up. But if you are looking for an amazing starter to keep with your healthy cooking programme, here’s our top pick:
This roasted baby artichokes with lemon aioli recipe comes from Cooking Light:
6 cups water
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
12 baby artichokes
5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
Preheat oven to 425°.
Combine 6 cups water and 4 tablespoons juice in a large bowl. Cut off top 1/2 inch of each artichoke. Cut off the stem of each artichoke to within 1 inch of base; peel stem. Remove bottom leaves and tough outer leaves, leaving tender heart and bottom. Cut each artichoke in half lengthwise. Place artichokes in juice mixture.
Drain artichokes; pat dry with paper towels. Combine artichokes, 1 tablespoon oil, salt, and pepper; toss well. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until tender, turning after 10 minutes.
Combine remaining 1 tablespoon juice, remaining 2 teaspoons oil, mayonnaise, garlic, and lemon rind in a small bowl. Serve aioli with artichokes.
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