Here at Apteekki our menu changes every month as seasonal produce changes, so we are welcoming onto our menu for June what is in abundance on the allotment right now: courgettes, tomatoes, cucumbers, early sweetcorn, carrots, and lots of berries in our sweet offerings!
Did you know that our bodies have evolved to adapt to our environment? And have you noticed how your energy levels and your cravings for different foods change as the seasons change?
That isn’t just down to Vitamin D, although it does play its part.
Our digestive systems and our metabolisms are actually tuned to the different seasons and we require different nutrients at different times of the year.
However, nature is such a beautiful thing, as it is designed in such a way that if we eat seasonally then we will find that the fruit and vegetables available as each season changes provide us with exactly what we need at that time of year.
Take Autumn for example, along with the gusty winds, and dropping temperature all too often come dry skin, low energy and coughs and colds. Autumn is an important time to nurture and support our immune systems, our lungs and our large intestines – all of which get a battering in this season.
We start to crave soups, and broths and hearty casseroles, baked potatoes, pumpkin pies and apple crumbles, which is just nature’s way of telling us to eat seasonally for our health, as Autumn’s fruit and vegetables are nourishing in all the ways we need, not to mention cheap because they are local and in season and not being flown halfway round the world (imported fruit and veg is also often harvested too early due to the long distance travel, meaning much less nutritional value than it would have had if picked and eaten at its peak).
Likewise, Spring produce has natural cleansing and healing properties: tasty, leafy greens, dandelion, spring onions, and garlic which are all prolific on the allotment in Spring have the ability to detoxify the liver and cleanse the blood.
And what about right now, as we head into June and the Summer months? Well a lot of the produce coming into season is about hydration and produce rich in antioxidants: juicy peaches, cucumbers, rich red tomatoes, and strawberries all have high water content to help keep our bodies hydrated in warmer weather. Building your diet around seasonal food facilitates the body’s natural healing process: for example, fruits and vegetables high in carotenoids, such as strawberries, carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and cantaloupe, have been found to be high in compounds which act as a natural sunscreen. In fact, when the sun’s rays hit these antioxidants in our body, these carotenoids actually move towards the surface of the skin and act just like sunscreen. Many summer fruits and vegetables are also high in ellagic acid, which has a free radical scavenging ability and can help to inhibit skin pigmentation caused by sun damage and prevent premature aging.
So what is in season? What have we got on the menu? And why is it good for you?
Found in our Buddha Bowl this month, and in our taste of the Med inspired Cream, Cheese, Basil, Tomato and Pesto sandwich, not to mention our Detox Smoothie and our Beetroot Ketchup, tomatoes are coming into their peak throughout June. The redder the better this month as it indicates the amount of lycopene they contain – a phytonutrient with powerful disease preventing properties. In fact, even though the tomato is 95% water (one of the reasons which makes it a great summer food) studies have shown that tomatoes are one of the best medicinal foods that we can eat with proven positive effects on heart health, bones, skin, digestion, eyesight, nerve, muscle and cell health, cancer prevention, stroke prevention, asthma, and cognition.
Our super soup for June has been built around the early sweetcorn crop. Actually a grain and not a vegetable at all, sweetcorn however contains vitamins and minerals worthy of its false vegetable status. Just one serving of our very moreish sweetcorn, coconut and chilli chowder contains 10% of your daily fibre needs, 25% of your daily protein needs, and is a good source of vitamin B and C (more than 10% of RDA). Additionally, it has thiamin (15% of RDA), which helps to produce energy for the heart, muscles and nervous system; riboflavin; niacin (8% of RDA), which helps with normal functioning of the nerves, skin and digestive system; pantothenic acid (9%), which helps the body convert food to energy; magnesium (8%); and phosphorus (11%).
Courgettes contain very few calories and have a high water content, which makes them a dieter's friend and a great summer food. In fact 100g of courgette only contains 15 calories. They aren't particularly a powerhouse of micronutrients, but they do provide useful amounts of immune system-boosting vitamin C: 30% of your recommended daily allowance can be sought from that same 100g. They also contain significant levels of potassium, which is key to controlling blood pressure. The soluble fibre in the skin slows down digestion, and so stabilises blood sugar and insulin levels, and they also contain a good amount of Omega 3 fatty acids which we usually associate with seeds or fish. In our Chermoula Courgetti this month we have combined spiralised courgette with preserved lemons, onions, capers, fresh coriander and parsley, cumin, garlic and chilli to add a whole host of medicinal benefits for gut health, anti-inflammation and added Vitamin K.
So pop on in during June - let’s hope the sun continues to shine - to rehydrate, top up that natural sunscreen and boost your intake of micronutrients.