High summer brings sun-ripened fruit and vegetables by the bucketload – there’s so much to enjoy! Highlights this month include courgettes, raspberries and blackcurrants.

 

Courgettes

They’re a front-runner for the title of ‘most versatile veg of the patch’. Stir-fry, spiralise or sweeten up in bakes (yes, really!).

Nutritional reasons to buy
One portion of your five-a-day: 80g

Courgettes are a source of folate, which is needed for healthy blood and brain functioning – it’s particularly important when planning and during the first three months of pregnancy, to help protect against neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Courgettes also contain blood pressure-controlling potassium and skin-loving vitamin C, and are rich in eye-friendly antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. When it comes to cooking, studies show that steaming rather than boiling or microwaving courgettes helps to preserve their antioxidants better.

Nutritional information per 80g: 14kcal: 1.4g sugars: 1g fibre

In the kitchen
ROAST chunks tossed in olive oil until golden, then cool and whiz in a food processor with lemon juice, garlic and tahini for a delicious dip.
SIMMER chunks in reduced-salt stock with chopped spring onions, peas and fresh mint leaves, then blend to make soup.
GRATE and add to cupcake batter or make savoury bakes
courgette

Raspberries

Whether you grow your own or buy them ready picked, these delicate pink beauties are a summertime joy – and your waistline has every reason to love them.

Nutritional reasons to buy
One portion of your five-a-day 2 handfuls: (80g)

Raspberries are rich in vitamin C, important for the immune system and healthy skin, and are a surprising source of folate, which is typically found in green veg. They also contain manganese, an antioxidant, which – although needed only in small amounts – is vital for healthy bones and releasing energy from food: an 80g serving provides 16% of our daily need. Raspberries are low in calories and natural sugars, but high in fibre. Don’t undo the waist-friendly benefits by adding sugar – sprinkle with a little granulated sweetener if the flavour is tart.

Nutritional information per 80g: 20kcal, 3.7g sugars, 2.8g fibre

In the kitchen
MASH raspberries, then swirl through fat-free Greek yogurt with crushed meringue for a healthier take on eton mess.
FREEZE raspberries with mango and banana chunks until just firm, then blend for a sorbet.
ADD a few handfuls of raspberries to a basic muffin mix .
raspberry

Blackcurrants

Intensely flavoured and brimming with vitamins, blackcurrants enjoy a short season (just four to six weeks) so make the most of the purple reign.

Nutritional reasons to buy
One portion of your five-a-day: 4 heaped tbsp (80g)

They contain potassium and manganese, but the main nutritional draw for blackcurrants is their rich vitamin C content. In fact, they contain four times more vitamin C than oranges per 100g, and an 80g serving contains double our daily need. Added to this, blackcurrants are packed with flavonoid compounds called anthocyanins, which give them their deep purple colour and act as antioxidants in the body. Research into the potential health benefits of anthocyanins is on-going, but it seems they may have a role to play in preventing cardiovascular disease and cancer, and supporting brain and eye function.

Nutritional information per 80g: 20kcal, 5.3g sugars, 3.8g fibre

In the kitchen
BREAKFAST TREAT, serves 2
Gently heat 250g blackcurrants in a pan with 1½tbsp agave nectar and a little vanilla extract until soft and just starting to burst. Meanwhile, lightly toast 4 slices fruit loaf. Top each toast with 3tbsp low-fat Greek yogurt, then spoon over the warm compôte.
blackberry

Related article: Seasonal ways to five-a-day in August

Topics: ,,,