Spring is all about sunshine and new blossoms, but the weather change also makes you susceptible to colds and flu hence you need to fortify yourself with seasonal produce that is rich in vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, say chefs
Spring is all about pleasant weather and happy vibes. Bright blooms, clear skies and crisp sunshine make the outdoors beautiful and enjoyable. However, the seasonal change can affect your health making you susceptible to flu, fever and allergies, hence you need to eat food that can prevent or fight such ailments. Which is why spring superfoods must be a part of your diet.
Chef Vineet Pathak, Sorriso, Marriott Suites Pune, says watermelons, grapes, raw mangoes, oranges, pineapples, bananas, spinach, pumpkin, capsicum and all types of gourds grow in abundance during spring. “During the advent of summer and the withdrawal of winter, the seasonal change can lead to a weakened immune system and hence consumption of vitamin C rich fruits like oranges, pineapples and other citrus fruits can help boost your immunity,” he says adding that one must include these ingredients in various salads, stews and traditional bhaaji / subzi preparations or add a twist and create something interesting with spring superfoods.
Hemant Biradar, executive sous chef, Conrad Pune, says that although spring in India spreads across March, April and May, the weather and seasonal produce varies from region to region.
“The varied Indian topography and its varied temperatures do make a difference. So certain types of spring vegetables grow in particular regions,” he says.
We all know that eating seasonal and local produce — grains, spices, vegetable, fruits — is one of the best and easiest ways to ward off illnesses caused due to change in weather, hence picking up what’s available during the season makes a lot of sense.
“Spring also brings in the best of vegetables that nature has to offer. Hence, it becomes important to incorporate seasonal vegetables into our daily diet, and bring in some newness to the routine diet of vegetables such as potato, tomato, aubergine etc which are available throughout the year. Having said that, due to technology and scientific advancement in agriculture most of the vegetables are available throughout the year. So one has to understand that the nutritional aspect of seasonal vegetables, which are grown naturally, is higher if consumed during the season,” adds Biradar.
He is of the opinion that homemakers can be a little creative while making daily vegetables such as substituting asparagus with beetroot while preparing the South Indian style simple Poriyal (a sauteed, vegetable dish) or use fresh garlic chives instead of regular garlic pods in tadkas.
MAKE IT FUN and TASTY
Chef Mark Philipose, Sheraton Grand Pune, says that superfoods are now a part of the daily diet of an urban consumer. “If you still haven’t introduced superfoods to your meals, it’s time you did,” says Philipose and lists down his favourite spring superfoods:
“Garlic chives will add a depth of flavour to the simplest of dals. Also, chuck frozen peas and include fresh peas and varieties of beans available during spring. Some of the most common fresh vegetables which are available during spring are artichokes, asparagus, chives, corn, mustard greens, fiddlehead ferns, peas, carrots, fennel, fresh lettuce spinach etc. You must include these in your diet,” he says.
Coconut: This superfood has been a part of our kitchen as long as we can remember, but do we really know how to make the most of this superfood? My personal favourite is to brew up some coconut coffee or coconut tea. It’s a great way to incorporate this nutritious superfood in your daily spring routine.
Lotus seeds: Healthy snacking is a great way to curb spring cravings. I recommend munching on some roasted lotus seeds, aka makhana, this season. Toss them with your favourite spice mix or simply drizzle some butter and seasoning. This low fat high protein snack is going to be your best munchy this spring.
Ragi: This humble grain is a great superfood to try out this season. Gluten free in nature, this kernel is bound to replace your regular flour. Roll this out thin into a flatbread or use it as a roti replacement; there are tons of variations you can achieve with ragi.
A VARIETY OF OPTIONS
Chef Rajesh Dubey, Gong and Speciality Restaurants Ltd, lists a few superfoods, which can help you stay healthy this season.
Artichokes: High in fibre and folic acid, artichokes can be used in Thai Red Curry and salads.
Arugula (rocket lettuce): It is very rich in phytochemicals, folic acid, vitamin A and C, calcium and should be consumed in salads in spring.
Asparagus: Packing a punch with fibre content, vitamin A, C, E and K, asparagus can be used in Sushi and salads and tastes really good.
Broccoli Rabe: Broccoli raab or rabe, a green cruciferous vegetable, is high in antioxidants and rich in vitamin C, K and A, and hence makes for a perfect springtime superfood. You can either have it in salad or consume as stir-fried broccoli with roasted peppers.
Fava Beans: Fava beans have vitamins and L-dopa (levodopa, an amino acid that is made and used as part of the normal biology of humans). Stir-fried fava beans and salads go well together.
Fennel: These humble seeds have rich fibre and potassium content that is needed for your good health this season. Add them to you salads or make prawn and fennel dumplings and enjoy the delicious dishes.
Peas: Well, we all love peas but did you know they contain minerals and antioxidants? Cook it with Indian vegetables, or make Vietnamese spring-rolls or consume as mashed peas.
Radish: Although not everyone likes radish, but this is one vegetable that you must consume during spring. Radish is rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, foliate and can be used in salads, or you can prepare pickled radish which tastes great.
Strawberries: Apart from being juicy and tasty, strawberries are full of vitamin A, C and E, and has antioxidants. Strawberries can be used in salads and can also be used to add flavour to different dishes.