Let’s get this Alpha Party started

Well as we are in the 1st month of a new year I thought I would begin with my mission to get the nation eating more fruit and vegetables. Last year, when I was very new to blogging and trying to establish myself in the workplace as a nutritional and wellbeing expert, I endeavoured to start the A-Z of fruit and vegetables. But, as you can see from my lack of posts throughout the year I did not get very far at all. (A slight understatement, me thinks!) So lets begin again with all the delicious A’s out there. I have already covered Avocado’s and Asparagus, but there are still a few more.

Alfalfa sprouts: Alfalfa technically belong to the legume section of fruit and veg as they are a member of the pea family. Alfalfa are tiny little white stalks that grow out of a tiny reddish brown seed, with a sweet green sprout/shoot on the top. Alfalfa sprouts are a great source of phytoestrogens, which can be very beneficial in balancing hormones that may be disrupted by the menstrual cycle or menopause. Alfalfa are also a good source of Vitamin C, which can help support the immune system. In addition to this, they are also a source of saponins, a group of phytochemicals which are shown to help positively widen the ratio between the LDL (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good ) cholesterol within the body.
For a tiny little being, these sure do pack some punch! It is also really easy to eat too with quite a mild sweet flavour. Add alfalfa to salads, sandwiches, burgers and it is also delicious combined with another of our A’s, Avocado’s! Just sprinkle some on top of some sliced avocado and a good grind of black pepper, serve with hummus and crackers/oatcakes. Yummy!

Time for another legume now, a small reddish brown nutty flavoured bean; the Aduki or Adzuki Bean. As with most legumes these beans are a good source of protein and dietary fibre, but they are also one of the easier to digest. Used frequently in Asian cooking, these beans are a good source of B vitamins and Potassium and also rich in trace minerals zinc, copper and manganese.
These beans can be used in curries, soups, salads and are often used sweetened in desserts. There are lots of fantastic recipes on the internet, so have an explore and try out something new. You can buys these beans pre-cooked in tins or dried. If you buy the dry variety, as with all legumes ensure you soak overnight for 12 hours prior to following the cooking instructions on the packet or recipe.
Add aduki bean soup recipe.

Aubergine: Although we think of Aubergines as vegetables, they are technically fruit, a berry in fact, but let’s not be pedantic! The aubergine belongs to the nightshade family, along with potatoes and tomatoes. The most commonly used aubergine is a purple bulbous egg shaped fruit that is also known by the name eggplant. There are many different varieties of the aubergine, varying in colour and size. Aubergine is an excellent source of fibre, vitamins B1 and B6 and also potassium. In addition it is high in the minerals copper, magnesium and manganese. Contained within the skin of the aubergine, there are flavonoids and phytochemicals that act as powerful antioxidants and may help to lower cholesterol. Aubergines are incredibly versatile and can be cooked in many ways, including steaming, stir-frying, grilling and baking. The flesh of the aubergine can often appear bitter and it is recommended sometimes to sprinkle the cut fruit with salt prior to cooking for 30 minutes. However, if you are trying to reduce your sodium intake, this is not completely necessary, or alternatively rinse the slices again prior to cooking.
Some popular dishes to try are; ratatouille, see recipe; moussaka, which is a great way to enjoy a grain and gluten free dish and why not try using roasted aubergine in a dip.

Apple: ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ – hardly surprising when we look at the fantastic nutrients contained within this delicious fruit. The apple is a member of the rose family, and comes in a variety of colours tastes and textures. Contained within either red, green or yellow skin, the white flesh of the fruit can be sweet, mild, crisp or tart. Most apples can be eaten raw, although certain varieties benefit and respond well to cooking. Apples are an excellent source of dietary fibre (especially pectin, a soluble fibre, which helps maintain healthy bowel function). In addition apples are a great source of vitamin C and potassium. There skins are also abundant with phytochemicals such as quercetin and ellagic acid, a powerful antioxidant. So therefore for maximum nutrient punch, where possible aim to eat organic, washed raw apples with their skin on. Apples are an ideal snack, portable, readily available and deliciously sweet. In order to balance out the natural sugars found within these gems try adding a small handful of unsalted nuts such as pecans, brazil of walnuts to maintain optimum energy and blood sugar levels.

Apricots: A small, round, fleshy, golden orange single stoned fruit, belonging to the same family as cherries, plums and peaches. These fruits can be eaten raw, cooked or dried. Apricots are a good source of potassium and iron. They are also rich in carotenes, lycopene and lutein, the phytonutrients which give fruit and vegetables the orange and yellow colours. These nutrients are shown in many studies to possibly help prevent heart disease and cancer.
Eat these fruits whole and raw as a snack, or slice them onto hot or cold breakfast cereals for added sweetness. Apricots are also delicious cut in half and baked with a sprinkle of ground almonds and honey, for a sweet dessert. Dried apricots are excellent to use in baking and can often be used to substitute the sweetness of added sugar. They are also delicious chopped up in rice, cous cous or added to stews.

You might think I have left out Asparagus and Avocado, but check them out in my historical posts!

This entry was posted in The A-Z of Happy Healthy Eating and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>