Living in Australia means that many of us down under get to enjoy the abundance of seasonal produce throughout the year. Because we change our clothing to move with the seasons and stay cool in summer or warm through the winter months it makes perfect sense to apply that to our eating habits and adapt our diets to move with the seasons, taking full advantage of all of the fresh and plentiful produce that are so readily available here.
Not only for practical and ethical reasons but whenever I can, I strive to buy food that is in season. I find that I can really notice the difference in taste because produce has had the chance to ripen and develop naturally. It’s also kinder on the hip pocket too if you buy seasonally and in bulk and freeze or dehydrate for the upcoming months when produce may become hard to source and more expensive.
It doesn’t make sense to shell out more money for food that has travelled thousands of kilometres when locally sourced, fresh produce is brimming with more nutrients and minerals that have been lost on long journeys and by hanging about in cool rooms.
Once a week I head down to my local farmer’s market to see what’s on offer. It’s fun to get to know the growers and producers of your produce, and build a rapport with them. Buying at farmer’s markets supports farmers to maintain farmland and helps to add more green space in local areas.
Now as we head into summertime in Australia, you’ll notice an influx of the most delicious fruits coming into season and farmer’s market stalls and local grocers are filling their shelves with beautiful and delicious summer berries.
I’m going to share three of my favourite summer berry recipes, my luscious sugar free, fruity, strawberry jam, and two summer drink recipes, a raspberry spritzer and a strawberry granita from my brand new book Supercharged Food, Eat Clean, Green and Vegetarian.
There's nothing quite like a enjoying big dollop of strawberry jam on toast and biting down on full, ruby red, sweet-heart shaped strawbs for breakfast. Preserving is the perfect way to use up seasonal strawberries and avoid wastage.
Commonly known for its antioxidant properties, the little strawberry offers a wide range of health benefits too;
- Strawberries are great sources of Vitamin C, instrumental in supporting your immune function. Unlike most mammals, we don’t have the ability to produce Vitamin C naturally, which is why it’s so important that we meet our daily requirements from the foods we eat. 100gs of strawberries contains 58.8 mg of Vitamin C, which is more than the Australian Recommended Daily Intake (49mg/day).
- As well as being a great source of Vitamin C, strawberries are rich in antioxidants, which are vital in defending the body from free radical damage. Chronic diseases can arise when cellular DNA is damaged, sometimes by free-radical damage.
- Strawberries play a role in reducing inflammation of the joints due to the antioxidants and phytochemicals found in the fruit. A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, highlighted that women who ate 16 or more strawberries per week, were 14% less likely to have elevated levels of C-reactive protein, a blood biomarker that signals the presence of inflammation in the body.
- According to new research published from Harvard Medical School, women who eat more than three servings per week of blueberries and strawberries, have a 32% lower risk of having cardio vascular disease. This benefit is due to the flavonoids in the berries known as anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that give these fruits their characteristic red and purple hues.
When shopping for strawberries organic varieties are best, look for undamaged fruit with no signs of mould. There can be over sixty types of pesticides sprayed onto strawberries as possible fungus prompts farmers to spray, and pesticide residue remains on the surface.
Whether you enjoy them just as they are, tumbled upon your porridge in the morning, as a long replenishing drink, sweet dessert or a homemade topping such as strawberry jam, make the most of all of the spectacular summer berries this season.
WF, DF, GF, VEG, VG
Makes one jar
- 2 punnets strawberries hulled and sliced in half
- ¼ cup rice malt syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Place strawberries in heavy bottomed saucepan on medium heat, add rice malt syrup and bring to boil. Stir for 20 minutes until the consistency is thick and strawberries have cooked through.
- Whilst still hot transfer to sterilised preserving jar and store in cool dry place.
- Jam keeps for 2 weeks in the fridge.
WF, DF, GF, VEG, VG
Ready for a transcendental experience? As your granita starts to melt it will became half slushy half granita and the flavour of the berries will burst through onto your taste buds with vigor.
- 3 punnets of strawberries, stems removed (frozen)
- 1 TBS rice malt syrup or sweetener of choice
- 2 TBS coconut milk
- coconut flakes to serve
- Place frozen strawberries in a blender and add rice malt syrup or sweetener of choice
- Blend until smooth, and then place in the freezer until hardened up
- Remove from the freezer and return to the blender and process to icy flakes
- Spoon coconut milk into a tall glass
- Add granita and decorate with coconut flakes to serve
WF, DF, GF, VEG, VG
To think that only multinational fizzy drink corporations can create a bottom-kicking beverage is the misconception of the century. The proof is in this delicious homemade sparkling swill which will dazzle drinkers with its bright pink hue and zinging flavours of raspberry and coconut. Place it on the summer lunch table and wow your friends and guests.
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1 cup frozen raspberries
- 2 cups sparkling water
- ¼ tsp liquid stevia or sweetener of your choice
- 6 coconut water ice cubes
- Place raspberries in a bowl, squish with a fork and set aside for 15 minutes
- Pour them into a fine mesh strainer add lemon juice and then using the back of a spoon push through into a jug, scraping the outside of the strainer as you go
- Add stevia and stir
- Pour in sparkling water and then add ice
- Stir carefully with long handled spoon
- Drink with a straw, the raspberry may settle at the bottom of your glass so just give it a quick stir
Read more about my new book Supercharged Food, Eat Clean, Green and Vegetarian here.