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The perks of only buying seasonal fruit and vegetables

Ciao, welcome back to my blog!

Today I am going to share with you the perks of buying only seasonal fruit and vegetables as well as the list of what's in season right now!


Autumn is my second favourite season and I believe is the best time to visit London: the colours of the trees turning yellow and red make this city so romantic and magical!

It is time to say goodbye to summery cucumbers and tomatoes, let's make room in our kitchen for the amazing range of autumnal fruits and veggies.

Nowadays we can find whatever we fancy in the supermarket and most foods are available all year round but I strongly believe that we should boycott what is not seasonal.


What are the reasons for not shopping for non-seasonal fruit and vegetables?


-Non-seasonal food has been imported from abroad, which is highly polluting.


-It also means that fruit and vegetables weren't picked when almost ripe, therefore their flavour and taste will be very bland.


-Non-seasonal food is not as healthy: nutrient content changes in foods depending on which seasons they were produced in.


-Modern agriculture produces items often covered in pesticides, waxes, and preservatives in order to maintain their fresh appearance and to preserve foods while being shipped in other countries. Who wants to put those nasty chemicals in their bodies?


Why do people keep eating strawberries and tomatoes in October when nature gives us the opportunity to variate our diet and the chance to be more creative in the kitchen?


I think this is an educational issue: people are not well informed about the risks coming from eating non-seasonal food, the environmental impact of it as well as the misconception that seasonal groceries are more expensive.

The reality is that what is growing naturally right now is usually better quality, cheaper and locally sourced.


What is out of season is always pale, tasteless and expensive.

Our body and mind need the best possible fuel to be healthy and according to scientists, researchers, and natural health experts, it is important to eat with the cycles of nature and only consume food that was grown at the time you are eating it. We should embrace the natural diversity that the season changes is offering us rather than going against it.

Check out this brilliant article:

-Why eating locally and seasonally is better for you and for the planet.

Acorn squashes

That's why I made a list of autumnal fruits and veggies available NOW in the UK:

What's in season

Apples:

Boring? Never!

Apples are delicious raw but they are one of the most versatile fruits on earth.

You can easily make yummy desserts and cakes with them but if you don't have time, I have a super quick and healthy snack for you:

Bake an apple in the oven (or microwave it for 4-5 minutes) and then add cinnamon, honey and your favourite nut butter!

This is a link to one of my favourite recipes:

https://www.thegarlicdiaries.com/roasted-apples-with-cinnamon-peanut-butter-sauce/



Squashes and pumpkins:

Rich in vitamin A and high in antioxidants to boost your immunity, they are not only for Halloween fans.

Butternut squash and pumpkin are delightful in so many different ways, just cut them into chunks and roast them (30-40 minutes) or boil them (15-20 minutes). Use them to make soups, add to stews or mash as a side dish.

Try squash spaghetti for an alternative to pasta or you can use them to make dessert such as a sweet pie.

One of my signature recipes:

Roasted mackerel and butternut squash

Brussels sprouts:

The king of British autumnal veggies: apart from roasted and steamed, did you know you could eat them raw?

I found it out while watching the Netflix series "Queer eye": Antony, the chef of the group, was teaching one of the participants a quick recipe with thinly chopped Brussels sprouts and I wanted to try it straight away. I must admit I was a bit suspicious but it is actually lip-smacking!

I found a similar recipe on Riverford's website: https://www.riverford.co.uk/recipes/view/recipe/shredded-brussels-sprouts-salad



Cabbages and cauliflowers:

Packed with nutrients, they are considered superfoods and they also are extremely affordable.

In the Romanian tradition are often pickled and eaten as a side with soups and rich meat second dishes.

They are easy and quick to cook: it takes only from 8 to 10 minutes to steam them and they are also very nice roasted. You can also make an excellent pasta sauce with them adding black olives, capers, garlic, anchovies and parsley.

My dad made me fall in love with raw cauliflower florets-salad made with a dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and pepper as a light side.

Black cabbage is typical of Tuscany and we usually have it sautéed in the pan with cannellini beans and "bruschetta" (toast rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil and salt).


Roasted cauliflower

Carrots:

That's an easy one... who doesn't like carrots?!

In autumn they are great in soups, roasted and as a base for the main Italian pasta sauces.

Did you know that you that carrot green tops are also edible?

You can blend them with Parmesan cheese, 2 tbsp of olive oil and some toasted almonds to make a delicious pesto sauce!

Carrot soup

Celery:

Celery is a negative calorie food, meaning that you will burn more calories digesting than it contains, which is brilliant if you are trying to lose weight.

Again, it is a great ingredient for soups and pasta sauces (check my ragu' recipe in the food section of the blog)


Kale:

Source of fibres, vitamin C and iron, it is usually added into smoothies in the summer but you can also use it in the colder months added to yummy stir-fries and it is exquisite sautéed on its own with garlic, olive oil and chilli flakes for a rustic, low-calorie side dish.




Leeks:

I absolutely love leeks: they are low in calories and a good source of manganese, which may help reduce premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms and to promote thyroid health. They are such a versatile ingredient and I personally add it everywhere: soups, omelettes, stir-fries, pasta sauces and much more!


Parsnips:

Parsnip is another quintessentially British veggie, member of the carrot family. It has the same shape but it is creamy white rather than orange and it has a delicate taste.

I didn't even know what was it before moving to London but it has grown on me and I use it often in my recipes.

It is one of the main ingredients for a good Sunday roast side and it is really nice in stews too.


Pears:

In Italy, we like eating them raw with Pecorino cheese at the end of a meal.

A fun Tuscan motto says: "al contadino non far saper quanto e' buono il cacio con le pere" that literally means: "don't let the farmer know how nice is cheese with pears".

I recently found online a nice recipe for a winter salad that I can't wait to try it;

https://www.yeprecipes.com/img-pear-and-baby-spinach-salad-with-walnuts-and-blue-cheese-815.htm

Pears are also amazing in tarts and cakes combined with nuts and chocolate!

One of my recipes with pears:

Risotto with Anjous pears, walnuts and feta


Potatoes:

Yes, potatoes are starchy veggies so they count as carbs BUT a medium-size one has only around 110 calories! It has also nearly half your daily value of vitamin C, more potassium than a banana and it's a good source of vitamin B6, fibres, magnesium and antioxidants. More excuses to eat it weekly?


It makes soups creamy and rich, roasted or mashed is the perfect side for any kind of fish and meat course! Obviously, the amount of calories changes drastically if you eat it fried or with heavy dressings, which is fine every now and then as a treat.

Crisps don't count! There is nothing left of potatoes there!

I noticed at work an awful English habit of only eating a bag of crisps and a sandwich at lunch and it is one of the most unhealthy things you could do.

You'll end up hungry within an hour because those highly processed foods are calorie-dense without containing other significant nutritional value. They are not filling as they don't have fibres left, however, they are high in saturated fats and salt. Basically, you are only eating high palatable rubbish.

I know they taste good and I sometimes eat them too as snacks but under no circumstances they will be in my lunch box simply because they can't be counted as a full meal.


One of my recipes with potatoes:

Potatoes, squids and tomatoes summer salad


Spinach:

I know, they are terribly annoying to clean and no matter how much of fresh ones you buy, they will reduce into a tiny ball once cooked but they are good for you.

A solution could be finding a good quality frozen.

I use them literally everywhere as ingredients for omelettes, as filling for cannelloni, steamed, as a pasta sauce with double cream, sautéed with garlic, in my winter salads, the variety is virtually endless!


Pomegranate:

My absolute favourite autumn fruit! And by far the most beautiful one. When opened it looks like a jewel!

I couldn't be more enthusiastic about it because it is so nice and it has so many benefits that I am currently eating one a day now that they are in season.

The fresh-squeezed juice contains higher levels of antioxidants than most other fruit juices. It also has three times more antioxidants than red wine and green tea. The antioxidants in pomegranate can help remove free radicals, protect cells from damage, and reduce inflammation.


My advice is to buy them whole ( I managed to find 3 for 1 pound this week and I am so chuffed) in Indian or Turkish corner stores as they are much better quality compared to the packed ones you find in supermarkets. You can see the difference immediately: when the fruit is whole and you open it the seeds are shiny and ruby red, they taste tangy but sweet, while the pre-cut ones from the plastic pots are pale and they taste like dry apples.

If you don't know how to cut it, here there is a useful link: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/videos/techniques/how-remove-pomegranate-seeds


How can you add it pomegranate seeds in your meals?

Toss them into a green or fruit salad, sprinkle some onto your yoghurt or oatmeal, add them to smoothies or juices, use as a tangy garnish on avocado toast or garnish roasted or grilled meat dishes with them!




Chestnuts:

They are not a typical British fruit, they are imported from other countries.

I tried to find some Italian ones called "marroni" as I love them roasted and sprinkled with red wine and salt! Don't bother buying the Chinese ones you can find in supermarkets: they don't even deserve to be called chestnuts.

How to roast chestnuts in a cast iron grill pan


Persimmon fruit:

Again, not a British fruit but it is available now in local markets and street stalls because it is in season in the south-east European countries.

My parents have two huge persimmon trees in their garden I have the best memories about eating the fruit directly from the tree in November.

They are as sweet as honey when properly ripe, but in London, I couldn't find good quality ones so far. They are picked when they are still hard and therefore they don't taste the same. When soft and ripe they are a bit messy to eat, but you can peel the skin off and use a spoon to avoid to get dirty.


Freshly picked Italian persimmons and pomegranate

What is your favourite seasonal fruit or veggie?

Let me know in the comments below.

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