A restaurant menu focused on seasonal produce is now super cool, but do you know why it’s important to eat seasonally?
When you eat locally and seasonally you know you are eating the freshest, most abundantly available produce. It is better for everyone – you get the tastiest veg, the local farmer benefits and food miles (the distance our food has to travel from the farm to your fork) decreases so you get to save the environment too. Another unexpected benefit is to reconnect to nature’s seasonal cycle. If you have children, this is especially important as it teaches that food does grow at specific times, a hard concept to grasp when imports from all around the globe ensure that supermarket shelves look the same practically every week of the year.
If you’re wondering when you should start, the answer is: Now. A survey in BBC Good Food magazine showed we’re not as good as we think at figuring out what is in season. Of the 2000 people it asked, 86% claimed it was important to shop seasonally, 78% said they were doing it – and yet only 5% could say when blackberries were at their best.
I want to help make 2020 the year that you can embrace this concept. Watch out for my Facebook page for regular reminders of what’s in season each month and a little inspiration for what to do with it.
Where to buy seasonally
Farmers’ markets are a great place to find local seasonal veg. Make it your mission this month to find out what’s on near you. You could try this resource to help you www.findlocalproduce.co.uk/
Having someone else do the hard work and just bring you the goodies is also a good thing. If you’ve never considered getting an organic veg box, it can be an amazing experience. It’ll teach you super-fast what is in season when, you’ll get some of the best produce available in your area, delivered to your door, and it may well inspire you to try new recipes.
Inviting a veg box into your life forces you to try something new, and this can be very enjoyable. Of course, you can pick and choose the types of ingredients you want and avoid having things added that your family dislikes, but I urge you to have a go and see what happens.
The following offer a huge variety of veg-only or fruit and veg boxes, some even with a ‘pick your own’ element where you can pick and choose exactly how much of what you have:
Follow me on Instagram @alison_nutriton and find inspirational recipes, but let’s start off with something delicious that you might not have tried that’s in season this month.
Roasted butternut squash and quinoa with pomegranate
Butternut squash has a lovely, sweet flavour and like most orange coloured vegetables, they are a rich source of beta-carotene. They are packed full of many nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamin C.
Diets rich in carotenes have many health benefits, including supporting a strong immune system.
INGREDIENTS (serves 6)
1 small butternut squash, cut into 2cm cubes
4 tbsp olive oil
180g (dry weight) quinoa
200ml chicken or vegetable stock
65g dried cranberries
20g flatleaf parsley, chopped
35g spring onions, finely sliced
50g pumpkin seeds
75g feta cheese
100g fresh pomegranate seeds
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the butternut squash on the baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 mins, stirring occasionally.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the quinoa to the pan and toast for 3-4 minutes, stirring often and adding a splash of water if it starts to stick. Add the stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat down low, cover and cook for 15-20 mins, or until the quinoa has absorbed all of the liquid.
Take the pan off the heat and allow the quinoa to rest for 5 mins, still covered. Fluff up and separate with a fork.
Empty the quinoa into a large serving bowl. Gently fold in butternut squash, cranberries, parsley, spring onions, pumpkin seeds, feta cheese, and pomegranate seeds. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
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