What’s in Season: September

September signals the start of Spring and that means a whole host of new fruits and vegetables swinging into season… ah YUM! When fruits and vegetables are in season, they are available in abundance and as a result, they are whole lot easier on the hip pocket (especially the organic ones). Below I have included the vegetables and fruits available during the months of September. Just reading over their health benefits, reinforces why it is so important to have a diet rich in cancer-fighting, anti-ageing, anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables. Eat ’em up! 

asparagus

ASPARAGUS 

One of the first foods that tell me it’s the start of spring is the appearance of fresh asparagus at local farmers’ markets. Asparagus is a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium. Asparagus is a particularly rich source of glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and other harmful compounds like free radicals. To top it off, Asparagus is packed with antioxidants, ranking among the top fruits and vegetables for its ability to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. This may help slow the aging process.

Roast, grill or stir-fry your asparagus. These quick-cooking, waterless methods will preserve the fabulous nutritional content and antioxidant power of asparagus.

beetroot

BEETROOT 

These root vegetables are naturally sweeter than any other vegetable, which means they pack tons of flavors underneath their rugged exterior.

Think of beets as red spinach. Just like Popeye’s power-food, this crimson vegetable is one of the best sources of both folate and betaine. These two nutrients work together to lower your blood levels of homocysteine, an inflammatory compound that can damage your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. Plus, the natural pigments—called betacyanins—that give beets their color have been proved to be potent cancer fighters in laboratory mice, especially those tumours affecting the colon or the stomach. Rounding out the beets nutrition profile, they are also considered a very good source manganese and potassium – which are important for blood pressure regulation – as well as vitamin C, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus.

Heating beets actually decreases their antioxidant power. For a simple single-serving salad, wash and peel one beet, and then grate it on the widest blade of a box grater. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon.

brocolli

BROCCOLI 

Broccoli would have to be my favourite vegetable. Not only is it a wonderful source of fibre, broccoli is also full of alkalinising, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer phytonutrients that work to support optimum health and protect against disease. Do a little digging and you may discover that broccoli contains more calcium than most dairy products!

What many people don’t know about broccoli is that the stalks and leaves are just as edible as the florets, and if fact are even a little tastier (in my opinion). Broccoli stems have a wonderful mild sweet flavor and are much higher in fibre than the florets whilst broccoli leaves are a richer source of beta-carotene than either the stems or florets.

You can eat broccoli raw, steamed, roasted, anyway you like. When cooking broccoli it is best to peel off the tough outer layer of the stem before cooking. 

I always recommend buying organic produce however Broccoli would be one of those vegetables I would never buy conventional, even if I was forced to go without. Next time you have conventional broccoli in your hands, wipe your hand over the top of the floret and you notice your hand is covered in a sticky residue or chemical, that cannot be washed off the broccoli. This prevents pesticides sprayed on the vegetable from washing off with rain or watering… BUY ORGANIC.  

cauliflower

CAULIFLOWER 

Cauliflower, a cruciferous vegetable, is in the same plant family as broccoli, kale, cabbage and collards.

Cauliflower contains a number of phytonutrients called glucosinolates that can help activate and regulate our detoxification systems. Cauliflower is also an excellent source of vitamin C, and a very good source of manganese – two core antioxidants. To top it off, cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin K – one of the hallmark anti-inflammatory nutrients.

Cauliflower can be boiled, but this does nothing to enhance the flavour, and in fact, can reduce the levels of all the beneficial compounds you’re looking for in this versatile veggie. Personally, I like to steam cauliflower and create a cauliflower mash (recipe in my winter cookbook)!  

Lemons

LEMONS 

Did you know the Ancient Egyptians believed that eating lemons and drinking lemon juice was an effective protection against a variety of poisons, and that recent research has confirmed this belief? There are many health benefits of lemons that have been known for centuries.

Lemon juice is a wonderful digestive tonic. It helps balance your body’s ph and containing over 187% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, is a great way to boost your immune system.  Lemons are also rich in potassium, vitamin B6, folate, thiamine, magnesium calcium, phosphorous, and vitamins A & E. Potassium is important for stimulating brain and nerve function, fighting free radicals and helping to control blood pressure. You can read more about the health benefits of lemons here. 

pawpaw

PAWPAW / PAPAYA

Paw Paw or Papaya, is rich in enzymes called papain and chymopapain which helps with the digestion of proteins. Papain has also been known to destroy intestinal parasites and worms, good news for not only digestion, but our immune system. Eating raw paw paw (or drinking it’s juice) has also been known to replenish good gut bacteria after a course of antibiotics. This could also been great for those women on the pill. See Nat’s post here for more information.

Paw-paw works well in salads and smoothies. You can even enjoy paw-paw on it’s own, prior to any protein packed meal if you struggle with digestion. Paw-paw is just one of the fruits being incorporated into our Spring Cookbook – launching very soon. 

strawberries

STRAWBERRIES 

The Strawberry is called ‘the queen of fruits” In Asian countries because it’s packed with health benefits. The red colouring contains ‘anthocyanins’ which have been known to help stimulate the burning of stored fat as well as improve short-term memory loss. Strawberries contain potassium, vitamin K and magnesium, which are important for bone health. 

Strawberries are ranked no. 3 in the Environmental Working Group’s list of “The Dirty Dozen”. According to this list, strawberries are sprayed with the third highest volume of pesticides for any fruit and vegetable available on the market. This information coupled with the fact their porous surface area absorbs the sprays quite readily, I highly recommend opting for organic strawberries to maximise health benefits – especially now they are in season and organic strawberries are becoming readily available.