Now that warmer weather is on its way, it’s the perfect time to spring-clean your eating habits, as well as your home! A bounty of seasonal produce is appearing on market stalls and in supermarkets around the country.

Along with regular exercise, a balanced diet containing at least five 80 g servings of fruit and veg per day is one of the best ways to look after your body and avoid any preventable health issues. A diet that includes 5 A DAY has several health benefits, including:

  • Reduced risk of strokes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer
  • High dietary fibre, leading to a healthy gut with a reduced risk of constipation and bowel cancer
  • High intake of essential vitamins and minerals for all-round health.

 

Why eat seasonally?

Fruit and vegetables are cheapest, freshest and taste their best when they’re in season. You’re also supporting local farmers when you choose British grown seasonal produce over imported.

There are several tools available to help you sort out what to buy when, such as the Seasons app, which lists the fruit, vegetables, nuts and herbs currently in season. It’s useful to bring along to supermarkets and farmers markets to hunt down what’s freshest and most delicious. Eat The Seasons is a website that lets you look up a certain fruits or vegetables to check whether they’re in season.

 

What’s in season this spring?

  • Asparagus
  • Aubergines
  • Broccoli and cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Radishes
  • Red potatoes
  • Artichokes
  • Spinach
  • Rhubarb
  • Watercress.

Here are some ideas for sneaking some of these spring vegetables into your meals to make sure you get your 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day.

 

Healthy breakfasts

Hide leafy greens such as spinach in a delicious breakfast smoothie. Blend together with frozen fruit, banana, nut butter and a splash of milk for a quick and nutritious start to the day.

  • Spinach and other dark leafy greens are packed with iron, vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K which enhances bone health and beta-carotene (vitamin A), promoting healthy skin and hair.
  • Bananas are a good source of potassium, helping to maintain a low blood pressure and a healthy heart. If you’re worried about your blood pressure, remember to make an appointment with your GP who can advise you about dietary changes.

Spring onions, new potatoes, mushrooms and asparagus can be chopped and baked with eggs for a light spring frittata– rich in protein and perfect for a hearty but healthy breakfast.

 

Light spring lunches

Try out a spring salad– such as this satisfying potato, asparagus, spring onion and watercress salad. You could also add chopped beetroot, cabbage, or artichokes for extra colour, crunch and flavour. Salads take no time to prepare and are packed with goodness.

  • Beetroot and cabbage contain nitrates which may help to regulate blood pressure. See the NHS webpage for more information on beetroot.

 

Delicious dinners

Satisfy your craving for crisps by roasting a pan of chopped spring vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes and radishes to give them a crispy, sweet (and addictive) edge. Roast vegetables are delicious on their own and make a great side dish for spring lamb.

  • Roasting your own veg allows you to control how much fat and salt you’re consuming- add just a dash of olive oil and skip the salt entirely to let the caramelized sweetness of the vegetables come through.
  • Broccoli , cauliflower, cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables contain healthy carotenoids, vitamins and minerals. They may also be linked to reduced risk of certain types of cancer.

 

Fruity desserts

Replace sugary and fatty desserts with fruit instead for a healthy boost. Take advantage of cheap and fresh spring rhubarb and try out rhubarb crumble, pastry puffs or roasted rhubarb.

  • Fruit baked into dessert counts as one portion of your 5 A DAY.

For more recipe ideas, check out British Larder, which has pages of seasonal spring feasts.

Take a look at NHS Choices for more ways you can care for your body through a balanced diet and good nutrition, including more tips for getting your 5 A DAY.