Starting again with good health
It’s like all of a sudden the new season has started! In the markets, delis and supermarkets, we have the first round of the new crops from Spring. It’s so great to see all of the tasty local produce coming from Irish fields that have been recently pickled and packed full of goodness. So where do you start?
I often think that it really isn’t that hard to be healthy in the summer. The warm sunny days (when we are lucky!) lend themselves to light salads and lean meats, and fresh fruit seems like the natural choice. Coming into season now are gooseberries, strawberries and rhubarb, as well as the first cherries coming from Europe.
We also have a wide variety of vegetables growing around us. Carrots, cauliflowers, lettuces, peas, radishes are all appearing and, of course, June is always associated with Asparagus. Although we know that the basics of good health start with a varied diet, in June it’s hard not to eat plenty of asparagus, as its season is so short.
Asparagus is an excellent source of Vitamin K, Folate, Vitamin C and Vitamin A, as well as a good source of protein and a number of other B vitamins. They also, like all vegetables, contain a unique blend of antioxidants that are beneficial for good health. Interestingly, they are also a source of phytosterols, which are plant based cholesterols that have been shown to lower ‘bad’ cholesterol levels.
Asparagus also contains a kind of carbohydrate called inulin which helps to feed the good gut bacteria, helping to promote good digestive health. I feel the best way to cook asparagus is to steam them for about 3-5 minutes, helping to maintain their health benefits. This is a simple recipe that you can have as a side dish or poured over your salad. I have this as a starter.
1 bunch of medium sized asparagus
2 tablespoons of good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp of grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon of lemon zest – freshly grated lemon rind
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
Prepare the asparagus by rinsing them thoroughly, break off any tough, white bottoms and discard. Cut into 1 inch sections.
Place in a steamer with simmering water and steam, covered, for about 3 minutes.
Remove and while they are still hot, coat with the oil, cheese, zest and seasoning.