The cashew nut is a favourite in-between meal snack or used in recipes. Like other nuts, it is actually a seed. The delicately flavored cashew nut can be readily found in your local market year round. It also makes wonderful nut butter and a special addition to salads and stir-fry dishes. Not only do cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts, approximately 82% of their fat is unsaturated fatty acids, plus about 66% of this unsaturated fatty acid content are heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, similar to those found in olive oil.
Due to their high content of oleic acid, cashews are more stable than most other nuts but should still be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator, where they will keep for about six months, or in the freezer, where they will keep for about one year.
How to enjoy
Combining cashews with other nuts and dried fruits makes a healthy snack.
Right before taking off the heat, add cashews to healthy sautéed vegetables. Add sautéd cashews to shrimp, basil and green beans for a delightful Thai inspired dish.
Cashews with a little bit of maple syrup make a great topping for hot cereals.
Add cashew butter to breakfast soy or rice milk shakes to up their protein content (a quarter-cup of cashews provides over 5 grams of protein) and give them a creamy nutty taste.
In a saucepan over low-medium heat, mix cashew butter with some soy sauce, cayenne pepper, garlic, ginger and water to make a wonderful sauce for fish, vegetables, tofu or rice.
To roast cashews at home, do so gently—in a 160-170°F (about 75°C) oven for 15-20 minutes—to preserve the healthy oils.
Pronounced ‘Keen-wah’ most of us only know about this small, round grain thanks to Gillian McKeith who often referred to its healthy qualities in her TV show You Are What You Eat. But it’s been cultivated in South America’s Andes region since at least 3,000 B.C.
Technically quinoa is not a true grain, but is in fact the seed of the Goosefoot plant, which is related to spinach and Swiss chard. It’s used as a grain because of the way it’s cooked, and when prepared it certainly looks unique – the outer germ around each grain twists outward forming a little white, spiral tail, which is attached to the kernel.
Quinoa can be found in a variety of colours and has a fluffy consistency and mild, delicate and slightly nutty taste that works well with other stronger flavours.
It’s a wonderful ingredient when used in lots of recipes from soups and casseroles to salads – and you’ll easily be able to make the most of this powerhouse of nutrition. Quinoa is high in protein, calcium, iron, a good source of immunity boosting vitamin E and energy giving B vitamins.
Most impressively, it contains a perfect balance of all the essential amino acids needed by our bodies for tissue development. Quinoa also contains the same protein as found in egg whites, blood and many plant and animal tissues. As it’s gluten-free it’s also an excellent choice for anyone with gluten sensitivity.
If you’ve never tried it before, now’s the time.
Asparagus, long regarded as one of the foods of love is back! – Asparagus is available from different parts of the world all year round but British asparagus is well worth waiting for its unbeatable flavour and freshness. The tips should be tightly furled and perky, rather than limp, and the shoots should be straight and firm.
Boiled (for 3-5 minutes) or steamed (4-5 minutes, depending on size) then served with Hollandaise sauce or hot Sprinkled with sea salt, brushed with oil and roasted (for 15 minutes) or grilled (5 minutes), then served with Parmesan shavings and balsamic Glaze.
If there could ever be such a thing as an A-list vegetable then it has to be kale. It’s the ingredient de jour for celebrity smoothies, is loved by nutritionists and is much easier to cook with than many people imagine. Put simply, kale is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. A leafy green, kale is available in several varieties – the most common a flat or curly leaf.
It’s a low calorie source of fibre, great for aiding digestion and a brilliant detox food as along with its fibre it also contains plenty of sulphur to keep your liver healthy. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef, which is essential for the formation of red blood cells to transport oxygen around the body. And equally kale has more calcium per calorie than milk. Calcium helps prevent osteoporosis and maintain a healthy metabolism.
This dark green leaf is also high in Vitamin K, which can help protect against various cancers and is also necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions including good bone health. This vitamin is also key in helping people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Kale is filled with powerful antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. It will also help keep you feeling healthy as it’s high in vitamin C, an impressive immune system booster. So there’s little wonder it’s been touted as the best green veggie around.
Like cabbage and broccoli, cauliflower is a mass of tiny, tightly packed flower heads (called curds), which grow from a thick central stem to form a single, round head, cupped by green leaves. It has a firm, almost waxy texture, and a mild, delicate flavour. Most cauliflowers are white, but it’s also possible to find green and purple varieties, as well as the sweeter Romanesco cauliflower, with its distinctive pointed florets. Like all brassicas, cauliflower smells very unpleasant if overcooked, so brief cooking is essential.
When choosing cauliflowers, go for those with pure white heads with no discolouration, and crisp green leaves. The colour of the base is a good indication of how recently it’s been picked – the whiter, the fresher.
To prepare, pull off the surrounding leaves (if they’re fresh, they can be cooked, too). For large cauliflowers, cut off individual florets from the central stem and cut again if necessary. You should end up with florets of a comparable size, so that they all cook at the same pace. Then wash. Smaller, baby cauliflowers can be cooked whole.
Cauliflowers can be stored in a perforated bag in a cool dark place, or the fridge. It will keep for several days.
The florets are great used raw in a salad or as part of a cruditee selection served with dips. Cooked cauliflower florets keep their shape best when steamed (5-10 minutes) – remember to place them upright in the steamer. It can also be boiled (takes 5-10 minutes for florets; around 10 minutes for a whole cauliflower). For both cooking methods, test regularly with the tip of a knife to make sure they don’t overcook
Cauliflower is an incredibly versatile vegetable and can be used in curries and soups. And where would we be without our all time favourite, the delicious and comforting cauliflower cheese! Inexpensive and local, it ticks all the right boxes, so don’t skimp on this classic British vegetable.
Originating in the Middle East in both sweet and bitter varieties, almonds are particularly nutritious nuts. In fact, they contain more nutrients in comparison with any other nuts – especially calcium which is great news for anyone who doesn’t eat dairy products.
They are also excellent for heart health – a handful of almonds a day helps reduce the risk of heart disease as it can lower bad cholesterol by as much as ten per cent. At the same time they boost levels of good cholesterol. Almonds also keep your heart healthy with Vitamin E, an antioxidant which reduces the risk of heart disease and magnesium, shown to help prevent heart attacks. Their potassium content helps to regulates blood pressure and they are naturally low in sodium.
Diabetics or anyone with blood sugar issues can benefit from almonds in their diet as are high in protein and contain virtually no carbohydrates. And dieters will be interested in studies which show that eating almonds can help you lose weight, in part because the mono-saturated fat satisfies hunger and prevents over-eating.
Mint has one of the most distinctive flavours and aromas in the kitchen. There are 25 different species of mint but all have the cool, fresh scent which is instantly recognisable. Historically it’s been used around the world in virtually every country as a perfuming herb and commonly to clear the air in places of worship. It’s also offered as a display of welcome and hospitality in many cultures, often through the giving of a mint tea.
The essential oil of mint has been shown to stop the growth of bacteria and certain types of fungus too. As a food, the benefits of mint are often linked to the stomach, not least because it can relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, and muscle spasms. Mint can be beneficial because the menthol within it relaxes smooth muscle in your digestive system reducing the chance of spasm and indigestion.
The leaves also contain vitamins C and A which can help lower the risk of certain cancers. Folate, iron, magnesium, calcium and vitamin B2 are also to be found in mint and can help blood quality, bone density and brain function.
Although we think of it as a fruit, rhubarb is actually a vegetable and relative of the buckwheat family. It orginiated in China, Tibet and Mongolia where it was used as a herbal medicine for decades. This made it one of the most valuable and expensive vegetables in the world for a while, when now it’s often overlooked or thought as something to just eat in a crumble. Chinese medicine doctors still prescribe rhubarb for their patients who are constipated.
It’s also a great food to include in your diet as rhubarb is a good source of lutein and as such a great way to take care of your skin and eyes – the only organs in your body that are exposed to the environment and so need some extra TLC.
It’s also a valuable source of vitamin K which is essential for blood clotting. Cooked rhubarab also contains a good dose of lycopene, compounds which help promote the health of your heart, eyes and immune system, as well as help prevent cancer. And researchers are hoping that the polyphenols found in British rhubarb can be used to create new anti-cancer drugs that will work when cancer cells become resistant to commonly used cancer chemotherapy drugs.
Although we think of rhubarb as something for pudding it’s worth trying new ideas as it also works very well with meat and fish dishes.