With spring here at last after a shiveringly long winter comes a plethora of interesting and colourful fruits and vegetables on the supermarket shelves that aren’t only great to eat, but can really help us shake off the winter blues and do our bodies some good, too. Nutritional therapist Angela Steel gives us some guidance on what to do with them, and why they’re so good for us.
Liver-Loving Super Pasta
With a ‘WOW!’ taste factor guarantee, this rocket and artichoke recipe is pure yumminess on a plate that’s ready in just 12 minutes.
The seasonal wild rocket helps to detoxify the the liver by stimulating bile flow and contains many phytochemicals and anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants negate free radicals, molecules that are associated with cell damage and ageing, while one of the indole phyto-chemicals rocket contains helps detoxify hormones via the liver, among other things helping to counter the carcinogenic effects of oestrogen.
Artichokes, too, are great for the liver. They contain the phytonutrients Cynarine and Silymarin, known to boost liver cell regeneration, and have long been considered a good natural remedy for hepatitis.
Remember: Eat plenty of fresh salad vegetables and you’ll “rocket” yourself to sky-high health!
Ingredients (per person):
• 1 handful gluten-free or wholemeal pasta. (I used gluten-free)
• ¼ tsp chilli flakes
• 1 clove of garlic
• 1 small pinch Himalayan crystal salt
• 2 handfuls of rocket
• 4-5 pieces of grilled Artichoke in olive oil, chopped (you can also use fresh artichoke)
• 50g Halloumi cheese, diced
• 1 tbsp pine nuts, lightly grilled
• 1 tbsp olive oil (for cooking)
1. Add pasta to boiling water in a pan. Meanwhile, make a generous bed of green leaves in a pasta bowl, add chopped artichokes.
2. Grill the Halloumi pieces till they just start to turn brown. Then lightly grill the pine nuts. Use a dry frying pan – no oil.
3. Once the pasta is cooked (keep testing to catch ‘al dente’), drain and place the empty pan back on the gas. Add olive oil, chilli flakes and the garlic. Before the garlic starts to turn brown, add the cooked pasta and toss so that it’s coated with the olive oil, chilli and garlic. Add a small pinch of salt.
4. Lay the pasta on top of the green bed of leaves and artichokes, place Halloumi cubes and sprinkle the pine nuts over the top before serving.
Raw Energy Fava Bean Dip
Such a bright green colour and distinctive flavour can only mean one thing: Fava beans (also known as broad beans) are bursting with nutritious goodness.
This dip makes a tasty snack, high in plant protein (helping to even out blood sugar spikes and troughs) and is particularly rich in B vitamins (great for energy production) and minerals like iron, copper, manganese and magnesium. Not to mention the cholesterol-busting phytosterols.
Fava beans also contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, which are component parts of the myelin sheath fatty layer around neurones in the brain. That means Fava beans are great brain food, supporting efficient transmission and potentially slowing or reducing the effects of Alheimer’s.
I tasted ‘Fava Bean Pate’ for the first time in Turkey and this is what inspired this recipe. The Turkish version is usually made with dried fava beans, but here I use them fresh, almost raw and ‘in season’.
• As a dip with nibbles for 4 people:
• 500g fresh fava (broad) beans, shelled
• 1 tsp cumin powder
• 2 large spring onions finely chopped
• 1 pinch Himalayan crystal salt
• 2 cloves garlic
• 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tbsp lime juice
• 1 tbsp filtered water
• Sprig of mint
1. This is not a recipe to do in a hurry. Shelling the beans can be quite a meditative experience. Sometimes it’s good to have an excuse to slow down! Once you’ve removed the beans from their pods, drop them into boiling water for a couple of minutes.
2. Drain and transfer them to a bowl of cold water so they retain their colour. Squeeze them out of their outer skin, leaving the bright green flesh.
3. Place the peeled beans in a food processor with all the other ingredients. Stream in a tablespoon of olive oil while puréeing.
4. Place the dip in a bowl and garnish with a sprig of mint. Serve with oatcakes, crackers or raw veggie sticks.