Sunday, 1 May 2011

A royal salad!

    A farmer having a dig at the Royals  
photo:Jersey official
The only royal wedding we were part of this week was the one of the Jersey Royals with some lovely fresh green vegetables and leaves. Spring is my favourite time of the year not only because the flowers are coming through transforming the city into a more colourful place but also because it’s the beginning of the salad season in my kitchen. It’s the transition from the warm comfort and nutrient-dense foods (which is exactly what our body needs throughout the winter months) to the season where the body welcomes lighter meals.

It is also the time to treat my liver. The liver is our largest gland and has hundreds of functions, including: clearing the blood, recycling worn-out red blood cells; processing the foods that have been digested in our gut; converting excess glucose (sugar) into glycogen and converting glycogen back into glucose to top up blood sugar levels; activating vitamin D; manufacturing vitamin A from beta-carotene; regulating and detoxifying numerous hormones; neutralizing alcohol, toxins and drugs; and store some vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, D, E and K, iron and copper, and some of the B vitamins etc.

The liver is our powerhouse and it has an amazing capacity to regenerate itself. But we shouldn’t take it for granted. We forget that it is there working really hard to keep us up and healthy, until it starts to get a bit compromised because it has been overworked. Some symptoms of a tired and neglected liver are: nausea (especially in the morning), alcohol intolerance, difficulty in digesting fatty foods, dry skin, dark circles under the eyes, hormone imbalances, itching on the palm of the hands and sole of the feet, arms and legs; high cholesterol levels; fatigue; constipation; pale stools; irritability and anger; recurrent headaches etc.

It is very important to pay attention to our liver and try to avoid eating junk food and foods containing pesticides and chemicals. We should also reduce the amount of exposure to environmental toxins (PBC’s, phthalate, dioxins, asbestos, heavy metals etc).

Along with the liver, the kidneys are also another organ that I am paying close attention to in this season.  

With Spring and now Summer approaching, it’s time to welcome the vegetables for that changeover period. In the weeks to come, I am going to introduce lots of recipes with seasonal foods that the liver really loves, the kidneys appreciate and that makes the whole body happy.

Enjoy the new season!

The vegetables, rocket leaves and feta cheese
The ingredients for the dressing
red chilli, garlic and fresh mint dressing
My Jersey royal salad! You can serve it in a big bowl...
or in individual plates as a starter.

Jersey Royal salad with green vegetables and spicy dressing
Serves 4

The Jerseys are at their peak now and to me they’re one of the tastier potatoes. Most Jersey farmers use seaweed as fertilisers, which is believed to enhance their flavour. This salad is a wholesome and a well balanced meal.

Ingredients

3 small to medium courgettes, sliced
olive oil plus a knob of butter (optional)
1 bunch of organic broccoli florets
1 bunch of organic asparagus
1 small fresh red chilli (optional)
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp organic olive oil
2 tbsp organic red wine vinegar
2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
300g organic Jersey Royal potatoes (or new potatoes)
1 large bunch of organic rocket leaves


200g organic feta cheese, broken into pieces

Method

Slice the courgettes and sautée them in olive oil with a knob of butter in a frying pan. Reserve.

Steam the broccoli and asparagus until al dente. Reserve.

Put the potatoes to boil for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, fry the garlic with the fresh chilli but don’t let them burn. Mix them with 2 tablespoons of organic olive oil, 2 tablespoons of organic red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh mint, sea salt and black pepper to taste.

When the potatoes are ready, mix all the vegetables and rocket leaves together, add the broken feta cheese (200g) and finally the dressing. Serve! You can have it as a light lunch or as a starter.

The main ingredients and their healthy benefits

Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis): contains selenium, calcium, zinc, copper and folic acid. It has some powerful compounds (indoles, isothiocyanates and sulforaphane) that promote cellular regeneration with anti-cancer properties. It is a powerful stimulant to the liver and kidneys. Studies have shown that asparagus protects the liver from the effects of the alcohol. It is a natural diuretic and helps to cleanse the arteries of cholesterol and is useful to control hypertension. It is used to alleviate menstrual difficulties.
Caution: avoid eating asparagus when there is an inflammation related to the kidneys as it can irritate the organ even more.

Broccoli (Brassica oleracea): is one of the top ten healthy foods on many naturopaths list. It contains the anti-cancer phytochemicals isothiocyanates and sulforaphane (research shows that it neutralizes carcinogens by reducing their destructive effects and stimulating the “carcinogen killers” creating a quicker removal from the body). It also contains the antioxidant Indole-3-Carbinol, which helps detoxifying enzymes and protects the structure of our DNA. Broccoli is a major source of cancer-preventing compounds (mentioned above) that are protective against prostate, gastric, breast, cervical and skin cancer.
It contains a good amount of vitamin B5 and vitamin A (which is very good for the skin). It has more vitamin C content than an orange (80-120mg from broccoli vs 50mg in orange per 100g serving). It contains sulphur, iron and B vitamins. Boiling causes it to lose its nutrients. If simmered for a few minutes, broccoli will retain its chlorophyll, which is good to prevent gas formation due to its sulphur content.
Caution: Broccoli contains goitrogenous chemicals which disrupts the use of iodine by the body. Avoid it, if you have thyroid problems and/or if you are low in iodine.

Courgette or zucchini (Cucurbita pepo): has a cooling and refreshing property. It is also diuretic, helps to reduce constipation and can be protective against colon cancer. It contains B vitamins, potassium, zinc and bioflavonoids. It helps reduce blood pressure by counteracting the effects of sodium. Its skin is a good source of dietary fibre.

Potato (Jersey) (Solanum tuberosum): is mildly diuretic, lubricates the intestines, tones the pancreas. Potato reduces inflammation, relieving arthritis and rheumatism. It is a good source of vitamin C, minerals and enzymes. It is a great accompaniment to meat, as its rich potassium content balances out the high sodium content of the meat.

Rocket (Arugula/Eruca sativa): has a peppery taste and is loaded with minerals and antioxidants, including vitamins C, A, K and P (a bioflavonoid that strengthens the body’s natural defences against infections and viruses, also enhancing the absorption and action of vitamin C in your body), folic acid, iron, calcium and potassium. It is known to be a natural aphrodisiac. It is a very good source of dietary fibre. It has very positive effects on the liver function and improves the blood quality.

Feta cheese: a very good source of protein, calcium, vitamins B2 and B12. Cheese is not only nutritious but a very enjoyable food. Do choose a traditional feta made with sheep’s or goat’s milk. Feat is a salty cheese and, if you are worried about its salt content, soak it in water for a few minutes and then rinse thoroughly before using it.


Till next week! 

No comments:

Post a Comment