It’s February and we had some snow this week – it was amazing to wake up to everything being covered in a big white blanket- so beautiful! The snow was a quick reminder to check out what is in season this month. Depending on weather conditions, we should be able to get British broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celeriac, jerusalem artichokes, kale, leeks, parsnips, rocket, spinach and turnips. Forced rhubarb is coming into season and British apples & pears are still available from storage. Check out the whole list in the links below.
You might ask yourself, why bother checking out what is in season, if there is everything available in the supermarkets all year round anyway. Well, apart from a having a much smaller carbon footprint, locally grown fruit and vegetables have a hugely higher nutrient density and taste so much better than anything that is grown out of season and flown in from far away countries . Take tomatoes, they only really taste like tomatoes in the summer, don’t they? And, have you tried strawberries, blueberries or raspberries in December ? I doubt they taste of much ? I like to compare it with wearing a summer dress in a snow storm- not sure I know anyone to have done that yet ? If you have to have berries, get frozen ones, they are at least frozen right after picking and a higher nutrient content.
In addition to taking care of our environment, taste buds and deeply nourishing us, preparing seasonal foods keeps us in touch with the natural rhythm of life and helps us keep our body balance. Although the selection of seasonal fruit & veg is limited around this time of the year, some of them even thrive in cold temperatures, kale for examples loves a bit of frost. This will raise the phytonutrient content, which in turn means we get more antioxidants from eating it. Isn’t nature just so clever ?
To keep track throughout the year, you can download a seasonal chart from http://www.newcoventgardenmarket.com or check out http://www.eattheseasons.co.uk, they give you information on what is in season in the UK and the rest of world. If you are a fan of organic box schemes or want to become one, check out the http://www.soilassociation.org- it’s such a great website with so many answers around food sourcing !
I do of course buy international produce, but only in very limited amounts and those that cannot be grown in Britain. In a nutshell, I try to buy British seasonal organic fruit and vegetables where ever I can, and get exotic fruit and vegetables grown in their traditional country of origin, if I feel I need to have them as an ingredient.
To put seasonal cooking & eating into practice try out my root vegetable curry, made with celeriac, carrots, parsnip and lentils, topped with curly kale and alfafa sprouts– delicious!! I use a lot of pulses and legumes in my stews, soups, curries and for sprouting and- they are delicious, a very good source of protein and available all year round .
Root vegetable curry – serves 3-4
1- 2 cups of brown organic lentils ( soaked as instructed on package )
2 shallots ( finely chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
2 carrots ( diced), 1/2 celeriac (cubed), 1 parsnip (diced)
2 pints of vegetable stock
Fresh ginger ( a medium sized knob – crushed )
2 dates finely chopped
1-2 tsp of turmeric
1-2 tsp of freshly ground coriander seeds
1-2 tsp of ground cumin
1/2 tsp of paprika, 1 whole medium sized dried chili (pierced)
2 tbsp of coconut oil , Himalayan salt & long pepper to taste ( you can cook a couple of snapped long peppers in the curry , it gives it some extra spiciness)
Raw kale & sprouts to garnish ( optional)
Heat up the oil in a medium sized pot, add the shallots and garlic and saute for 1 minute, lower the heat before adding all the spices, chili, dates & ginger and cook for half a minute, constantly stirring using a wooden spoon as to not burn the spices. If the pot is still very hot, take it of the hob whilst stirring. Then, add the soaked lentils continue stirring for another 1-2 minutes before adding enough vegetable stock to cover the lentils well.
Depending on the cooking time of your lentils, add the carrots, celeriac and parsnip only for the last 25minutes of the cooking process. That way they stay crunchy and keep a higher nutrient value. Towards the end, season with salt and pepper for taste. If like your curry quite spicy, tear the chili apart and stir well.
The curry is pretty delicious straight way but as most curries it will taste even better the next day, so it is the perfect packed lunch. If you like you can add some raw kale or sprouts after heating it up. Bon appetite !