March doesn’t bring an abundance of new things but there are still lots of lovely foods available. The beginning of Spring signals there is lots more coming soon and this year the hope that the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions will go ahead as planned.
Asparagus is due to appear from April but for now we have to console ourselves with purple sprouting broccoli, still very good and very available. Look for firm slender stems of broccoli and vibrant purple colour. It makes a good warm salad, maybe with some added grains such as barley, spelt or quinoa (see below); or boil or steam it for a few minutes and eat it hot with real butter and a pinch of rock salt. (Use the cooking water for casseroles or soups as it is full of nutrients – even if you steam it, as nutrients still escape into the water.)
There are lots of leeks too, a more subtle substitute for brown onions and the younger, slender ones are especially good for salads.
Foraged greens, it seems, are in good supply throughout the year and at this time of year there are ramsons three- cornered garlic and pennywort amongst many other things. All of these are good for salads. There is also sea beet and sea purslane which you can steam for a few minutes, then add a small lump of butter and eat with some fish.
See www.forager.org.uk for more information about these incredible foods.
Sustainably fished red gurnard and hake will be around for a little while longer. These are both excellent firm, white fish. See ***
If you don’t have a reliable fishmonger nearby, www.fishforthought.co.uk based in Cornwall are an excellent supplier. Order online and they will deliver.
New potatoes should be making an appearance from next month, but, if you are looking for a filling and nutritious bulking up food, consider grains such as barley, spelt or quinoa. These ancient grains are making a very welcome step back into the limelight and are all grown in the UK. As too are fava beans, split green peas and lots of other legumes.
For more details about these incredible healthy foods and where to buy them see www.hodmedods.co.uk
They also produce a wide range of unusual flours too such as fava bean, yellow pea and marrowfat green pea which is an excellent substitute for the rye flour, or eight grain flour used in the recipe for oatcakes in these pages see Oatcakes
There are still a few good varieties of British apples and pears and there is forced rhubarb for a little while longer with the field-grown variety coming in April.
Whilst the research is ongoing, there has been quite a lot of chat in the media about “Gut Health” and its importance for our well-being in just about every respect. It’s interesting, with lots of compelling evidence as to why we should engage with the subject. “Gutfull” a podcast of ten 30-minute chapters, written and read by Dr Joanna McMillan is a helpful introduction to the subject. It makes very good sense and supports the need to have a healthy diet of the kind promoted in these pages. It is available through www.audible.co.uk
Given that obesity has been highlighted as a major factor of low resistance to Covid 19, it is now crucial that we embrace a diet of wholefoods for a healthy life.
In case you didn’t know already: –
Sherbhert champions local and seasonal produce, not least because it is fresh and delicious but also because:
- It reduces the energy needed to grow and transport food
- It avoids the premium paid for food that is scarcer and has travelled long distance
- It supports local economies (even more important now)
- It connects us with nature
- It reduces food packaging waste
- It is value for money
- It is a natural way to achieve a varied, balanced and nutritious diet
- Foods taste so good that only a few ingredients are needed to make something truly delicious – just be sure to use every last scrap of it.
If you are interested or maybe confused about food and what to eat or not eat, have a look at “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan. This easy-to-follow book of simple food rules makes so much sense and it’s a short read.