As the chill descends, our appetites become increasingly inclined to welcome warmer fare. But there is a way to ensure that you sidestep the stodge – replacing it with summer nutrition – with every bite, discovers Emma Bangay.
Judy Davie is a nutritional trailblazer. The original personal trainer for the healthier palette, her hugely popular site The Food Coach was spruking the benefits of sipping green juices and eating seasonally, long before there were food bloggers and positively edible Instagram inspirations came about.
Summer eating all year
“Probably the greatest appeal to summer foods is that it’s all so fresh, clean and easy to make,” says Judy. “Most summer meals are ready within 15 minutes.” In winter, our appetite can become more governed by nature and climate. “As the temperature drops we need to regulate our body temperature by eating warmer foods that nurture the body during chillier days - and salad just won’t cut it!” Judy playfully concedes.
“When we eat hot food, we warm the body from the inside,” she continues. “Heat is psychologically comforting and physiologically necessary in cold months.” Avoiding this entirely by only eating salads and drinking cold kale juice may in fact backfire, she cautions. “When we fight nature and take a homogenised approach to our food – like eating the same food all year round – we’re more than likely to succumb to cravings and binge eating.” Therefore, diving into a bag of hot chips in the afternoon or chasing dinner with a decent side-serve of ice-cream can become common practice if we haven’t been adequately nourished during the day.
'Summer-fy' your servings
Bread: If you’re going to eat bread, make it a quality option such as a rye sourdough, advises Judy. “You won’t eat so much of it."
Pasta: “Use a quality wholegrain pasta, limit how much you use and preferably have it at lunchtime and not dinner," Judy says. A huge trend at the moment is Veggie Spiralers, which Judy says are the perfect way to create faux-pasta that is healthy and nutritious. “It looks a little like pasta and you can serve a sauce over the top, but it’s light and nutritious. Pasta for veggies is a great way to cut down the carbs.”
Parsley: Parsley is available all year round and it’s easy to whip together a salsa verde with capers, mustard and olive oil.
Avocados: These are available all year round. Even when they’re more expensive, Judy uses avocado in preference to butter on rye toast or crackers.
Eggs: “One of my most favourite breakfasts which can be served all year round is poached or boiled eggs with avocado and salsa verde or rye," notes Judy. "In summer I often serve the egg cold and in autumn or winter the egg is hot – that’s the difference!"
Amp up the effort with what you eat
Convenient carbs are the enemy to anyone who is trying to lose weight, cautions Judy. “It’s too easy to throw a couple of pieces of bread into the toaster instead of taking an extra five minutes or so to make hot porridge with apple or pear,” she says by way of example. “At night pasta can be thrown together in minutes and while pasta is nice to have every now and again, it’s not going to help with weight loss especially when it’s served with a rich meat sauce and very few seasonal vegetables.”
The best (365) test
No matter what season, testing produce to ensure it’s at its best is essential, notes Judy.
- Use your eyes, nose and fingers! “Check for the obvious signs of dampness, mould and signs of insect infestation,” she advises. “Smell the produce; fruit invariably smells fragrant and sweet, tomatoes smell woody and most vegetables don’t smell of much at all; and finally use your hand – gently – to test for ripeness. Avocados and pears can be gently pressed at the stem end. If they give slightly they are ripe and ready to eat.”
- As with all the seasons, try and let nature be your guide. Shop locally and shop in season.
- Be guided by the signs in your local greengrocers shop and when you see the words 'new season' it’s a sign the produce should be good.
Five summer ingredients to always have in the fridge
Here are some of the freshest recipes to get you through the year, from The Greengrocers Diet:
Summer Salsa Verde
Makes 6 serves
1 cup parsley (leaves and stalks)
1 tbs salted capers, rinsed
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs lemon juice
Place the parsley, capers, garlic, mustard and lemon juice in a blender and season with cracked black pepper. Blend until well combined. Slowly add the olive oil and continue to blend to make a smooth sauce. Transfer salsa verde to jar, seal and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Tomato and Basil Pasta Salad
1 cup wholegrain spelt pasta
3 tbs low-fat ricotta
2 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ tsp salt
½ tbs lime juice
375 g small heirloom tomatoes, halved
1 cup basil, roughly chopped
1 bird’s-eye chillies, seeded and finely sliced
1 tbs olive oil
Bring a large pan of water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook for 9 minutes, or until al dente. Drain.
Stir in the ricotta, garlic, salt and lime juice. Then add the tomatoes, basil and chilli, and toss through the pasta. Season with cracked black pepper, drizzle with olive oil and serve hot.
Turkey Scaloppini with Sage, Parmesan and Asparagus Salad
150 g green beans, trimmed
150 g snow peas, trimmed
6 medium asparagus spears, trimmed
340 g turkey breast fillet
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs pine nuts, roughly chopped
1 tbs sage, roughly chopped
2 tbs parmesan, grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbs lime juice
½ tsp grainy mustard
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Steam the green beans for 2 minutes. Add the sugar snap peas and asparagus and steam for an additional 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and plunge into a cold-water bath to help the greens retain their colour. Drain, blot dry using paper towels and set aside.
Using a meat mallet or rolling pin, flatten the turkey fillet (thickness should be even throughout).
Heat a grill or barbecue plate.
Brush the fillet on both sides with a little of the olive oil. Place the turkey on the grill and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
In a small bowl, combine the pine nuts, sage and parmesan.
Transfer the turkey to a baking tray. Sprinkle the pine nut mixture over the turkey and cook in the oven for 12 minutes, until turkey is cooked through.
In another small bowl, combine the remaining olive oil with the garlic, lime juice and mustard. Stir dressing through the vegetables and serve alongside the turkey.