Spring and summer is, in my opinion, one of the best times to make healthy eating easy. It is a perfectly natural thing during the colder months to want to reach for the stodgy comfort foods that make us feel warmed and cosy. The problem is this kind of food, which tends to be very carb heavy, makes us feel pretty sluggish after a while. It raises blood sugar levels, which soon comes crashing down again knocking our energy, and increases the movement of the amino acid, tryptophan across the blood brain barrier causing drowsiness.
These seasons are a time when temperatures rise, crops are in abundance and fresh produce is in particularly high demand. Here are my top tips to get the very best out of this change of seasons.
Rethink the BBQ
As the weather turns from arctic to sub-tropical – we can be hopeful – there is something inherent in British DNA that makes us want to cook meat outside. BBQ’s are great and who doesn’t love one of these rare gatherings? The problem is a lot of the ready-made meaty goods sold in supermarkets can have all sorts of nefarious ingredients in them, such as sulphites in products such as sausages. I would advise speaking to your local butcher for better quality BBQ staples. Or, you could do what I do if you want to take your BBQ game to another level – make the swap to fish and make your own wild salmon burgers. There is something wonderful about salmon burgers. They have the most wonderfully meaty flavour to them and are a great canvas to any flavour profile you could imagine.
Here is my favourite recipe:
Makes 4 – 5 burgers
4 wild Alaska salmon fillets
1 red onion – finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic – finely chopped
Small bunch of fresh coriander leaf – roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Remove the salmon skins by cutting in to the flesh immediately at the area where the skin attaches to the flesh. Run the knife along the length of the fillet slowly, removing the skin and hardly any flesh.
Place the skinned salmon fillets into a food processor and the process into a coarse salmon mince.
Remove the blades and then add the onion, garlic, coriander leaf, and salt & pepper. Mix well.
Divide this mixture into 4-5 and make into patties with your hands. Place the burger patties on a plate and refrigerate for 5-6 hours. The refrigeration is vital to give the burgers some firmness before placing on the BBQ.
Get your salad on
This is the time of year to really get creative with salads. Gone are the days of salads consisting of a few limp lettuce leaves and some soggy cucumber – they are bold, colourful, super tasty and pack a nutritious punch. They are also a great way to get minimally processed plant foods in without getting completely bored.
Why are salads so important to a healthy diet? Well, it’s a no brainer that eating more plants is going to do us the world of good and the less processed or interfered with, the better. They are super rich in micronutrients (vitamins, minerals etc) and a whole cocktail of phytochemicals that can provide an edible medicine chest. Many of these compounds are quite fragile and can be broken down and damaged by excessive cooking and heating.
One of my favourites is kale salad with peanut chilli dressing, spinach, roasted red onion, fig and feta with honey mustard dressing.
Don’t forget about the frozen aisle
We mustn’t forget that the frozen aisle in supermarkets can be just as if not more fresh as the chilled section. Think garden peas – these are frozen within hours of being picked to preserve their quality, nutritional levels and freshness. The same goes for wild Alaska seafood. It’s all about temperature and timing and the fisheries in Alaska have perfected their techniques to ensure that what comes into the UK is second to none. What’s important to note is that frozen food isn’t necessarily a lesser product.