As autumn descends, the last batch of summer ripened fruit and vegetables are finally ready to be picked and eaten from now until Halloween. At a time of year when most of us begin to rely more and more heavily on grub that’s preserved (good) or shipped vast distances from southern countries (bad), the environmental importance of consuming local and organic eats comes even more sharply into focus. One of the many to join Britain’s dedicated community of locavores is Theresa Webb; a chef and teacher at the Kitchen Buddy Culinary School (www.kitchenbuddy.eu). ‘It’s all about eating fresh foods to maintain the right balance that we’re supposed to have,’ comments Webb. ‘The paltry amount of minerals such as potassium found in junk foods and commercial [processed] foods is shocking.’ Considering the bounty that October has to offer, turning away from fresh, local food appears lazy at best and downright unhealthy at worst. And if that hasn’t got you convinced, here’s Webb’s pick of the finest fare that October has to offer to remind you why local is where it’s at.
One of the sweetest and most versatile vegetables available in October, beetroot also comes with a bevy of nutritional benefits. Rich in beta-carotene and folic acid, beetroot is excellent for cleansing the liver, and also assists in lowering incidences of heart disease. Webb recommends grating or slicing beetroot. ‘It’s good combined with apple,’ she says. ‘It’s alright roasted, but it’s nicer if it’s fresh.’
‘They’ve been grown for a thousand years over here,’ says Webb. ‘They were used by the Victorians as a sweetener and parsnips are just as popular today.’ A good source of fibre and folate, Parsnips also come loaded with potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure, and powerful anti-oxidant vitamin C. Webb recommends eating them fresh and raw.
Boiled, sautéed, fried, baked or grated into a soup; the possibilities are endless with the colourful and ultra nutritious carrot. The bright orange pigment is created by the presence of beta-carotene, which responsible helps improve the structural health of eyes and boosts night vision in the process.
Red or green, chopped, boiled or juiced, you’ll want to keep the rabbits away from the lettuce this October. A good source of folic acid and cleansing chlorophyll, Lactucarium lettuce has also has a mildly sedative effect, which comes in handy if you’re under pressure at work. Romaine has four times as much calcium as an iceberg lettuce, and twice the amount of potassium. Both, say Webb, combine well with fruit and vegetables.
They say one a day keeps the doctor away, and the mass of vitamin C is only the start of this fruit’s nutritional value. Apple skins also contain quercetin - an antioxidant that helps to combat arthritis, cartilage damage and heart disease. ‘Apples are very hydrating when they’re good and juicy,’ says Webb. ‘Apple is very nice when shredded into a salad, particularly with parsnip and leeks.’
Theresa Webb’s Minced Parsnip and Apple
‘Leave the apple skins on and they’ll create red and pink flecks in the midst of the delicate creamy colour of the rest. I enjoy this with a leafy salad and some avocado. You can also serve it with celery sticks, walnuts and olives. It tastes quite sweet so the celery and walnut help to balance out the flavours.
One large parsnip
One small leek
One tsp olive oil
Chopped fresh herbs – try mint, coriander, thyme or rosemary
• Peel the parsnip and chop roughly into pieces.
• Prepare the apples by removing the core and seeds.
• Place all the ingredients, including the herbs, into a food processor with an ‘S’ blade and process until finely minced.
• Add the oil and process again until the mixture is evenly covered and moist.
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