Here in the UK spring has well and truly started, and we’ve had perfect BBQ weather in abundance for the past couple of weeks! With a change of season comes a natural change in available produce, longer and lighter days (perfect for outdoor eating!) and the perfect opportunity to kickstart any new lifestyle goals you may have. Read on to find out more about all the seasonal treats you can enjoy, what’s been in the health news, and how you can make the most of the sunshine!

What’s new?

As much as I love my classic winter warmer dishes, the time has come to freshen up in the kitchen! Warmer weathers brings with it some of my favourite British produce – everywhere you go, be it markets, supermarkets or farm shops, fresh berries, tomatoes and different seasonal varieties are in abundance! A change in season brings a good opportunity to change up your diet, and not only is this great for avoiding boredom with your food, but it can also do your health some good. I’m not talking about making drastic dietary changes such as vegetarianism or gluten-free, but simply changing the types of fruit and vegetables you eat, or eating more yoghurt for breakfast. These sorts of dietary adjustments can all encourage the development of new good bacteria in the digestive system. And not only is it good for your health to eat seasonal produce, but it’s also better for the environment due to reduced demand for imported goods, and that means it works out cheaper too! So why not tuck into some of these super spring foods whilst they’re around? A few recipes for inspiration are featured below too:

Spring seasonal produce: 

  • Jersey Royal potatoes: make up a quick potato salad to pair with fish for a light lunch option, or parboil and roast with garlic and herbs to make a flavourful mini roastie side-dish
  • Rhubarb (one of my all-time favourite fruits): delicious when cooked down and eaten with yoghurt and oats for a fresh fruity breakfast, or as the classic British crumble we all know and love. Find the recipe for my healthy rhubarb oat bars on my Instagram page!
  • Berries: you can’t beat these in terms of flavour and nutrition in my opinion! Study after study is claiming the benefits of consuming these on lowering the risk of various cancers and chronic conditions, plus boosting the immune system – and it’s all because of the vitamin C and antioxidant content. You can really do anything with these – throw a couple of handfuls into a blender with 250ml milk, a spoonful of natural yoghurt, 1/2 cup of oats and 1tsp honey for a delicious smoothie to kickstart your day! Eat with yoghurt and chopped nuts and seeds for a healthy dessert, throw into a salad to add some colour and boost the nutrient content, or bake with them! See the recipe for my all-new ‘Berry Nice Banana Bread’ below!
  • Spring onion: perfect for adding into a light salad for a bit of crunch and a less potent taste than white or red onions – try changing up your salad by tossing cooked noodles in a little bit of sesame oil, mixing with chopped spring onions and salad leaves, and pairing with your favourite protein source – prawns, chicken, tofu, or cashews would work particularly well, especially with a little bit of fresh lime juice, seasoning and sweet chilli sauce.

Those are just a few ideas of how you can make the most of what’s currently in season, but don’t forget to check out my Instagram for more recipe inspiration!

Recipes

‘Berry nice banana bread’ (Makes 1 loaf/6 slices)

Untitled design (1)

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g strawberries
  • 1 1/2 cups of oats, blended into a fine flour
  • 1tsp milled seeds (optional)
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 20g skimmed milk powder
  • 20ml Berry tea (optional for extra colour and flavour)

Method:

  • Chop the bananas and add to a mixing bowl
  • Beat the eggs, then add to the bananas
  • Fold in the dry ingredients together
  • Roughly chop the strawberries, then carefully mix into the batter to avoid mushing the berries up too much
  • Empty the mixture into a lined load tin, then top with a few slices of strawberry
  • If using the tea, ensure it has brewed for at least 5mins, then drizzle a few teaspoons over the top of the mixture, then drag the spoon through to cause a ripple effect
  • Bake for 30mins until golden and firm, and so that a knife comes out clean when inserted

 

In terms of the nutrition for this recipe, I really thought hard about what ingredients I wanted to include and why. The aim was to make a nutrient-dense loaf that also provided a good source of calcium and protein – hence my use of the skimmed milk powder. This is my first recipe using this ingredient, and I’ll definitely be using it again! Skimmed milk powder is also fortified with vitamin A and that all important vitamin D – the essential vitamin for aiding calcium absorption into the bones. So a slice of this would be perfect on training days when protein needs are slightly higher and the bones and muscles will be recovering from the stress of exercise. The full nutritional label can be found below.

Berry nice banana bread recipe

Making the Most

Good weather is rare here in the UK, so here are some top tips for making the most of the sunshine whilst we have it!

  • Get some rays! Sunshine is the best and easiest way of getting vitamin D, with just 15mins of exposure to the sun providing enough of this essential vitamin being enough to boost your levels
  • Dine alfresco: you don’t have to splash the cash at a fancy restaurant – just step outside of the office or library for your lunch break and sit in the sun! The change in environment will give you a much-needed break and help boost your productivity for the rest of the afternoon
  • Exercise outdoors: now that the weather is a bit brighter why not opt for a leisurely bike ride, walk or jog. Early mornings and evenings are especially perfect for exercise, since early activity can boost your cognitive activity, and evening activity can reduce stress levels
  • Light it up: you can’t beat a good BBQ, and spring brings ample opportunities to gather up your family and friends to share good food. Whilst classic BBQ favourites are a must, why not give something new a go? I was lucky enough to try stuffed BBQ’d aubergine and tofu skewers at a friend’s BBQ recently and I was so impressed!

In the News:

Lastly just a quick look at the top health and food news stories right now…

  • Results of a recent study in China suggest that eating an egg every day can reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks. Eggs are so nutritious (containing high levels of protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, iodine), but have had their reputation tarnished by false warnings against over-consumption due to their cholesterol content. It turns out that this cholesterol is actually beneficial for us, so feel free to use these versatile power foods as a great component of a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Supermarket giant Tesco is leading the way again in the food waste revolution! They’ve ridded some fresh produce items (lemons, onions, potatoes etc.) from those confusing best before dates – just because the package states that the food is past its best, that doesn’t mean that it’s unsafe to eat! The public are encouraged to use their own judgement on the quality of the food – something we should all try to do to avoid throwing away good food!
  • A recent article from the BBC¬†discusses the potential benefit of altering the times of our meals and snacks in order to aid digestion, and potentially weight loss. It’s been long-claimed that heavier meals late in the day will not be digested as well as they would if eaten earlier, and that this stimulates higher levels of fat in the blood stream afterwards. However, more research is needed to provide evidence to support these claims, so for now, eat when it suits your daily routine and makes you feel the best!

That’s it for this post – I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and have found the content useful! If you’re looking for more meal and snack recipe inspiration, then don’t forget to head to my Instagram where you’ll find all of my recent creations! As always, don’t forget that you can share your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below.

-TheCookingYam

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