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Seasonal produce rich in antioxidants and immune-boosting vitamin C can keep you fighting fit, and able to ward off winter infections, says 5+ A Day.
Eating well and exercising regularly are two of the best ways to fortify your immune system and keep sickness at bay.
5+ A Day nutritionist, Bronwen Anderson, says that eating at least five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables each day is one simple thing people can do to help prevent infection.
Fruit and vegetables contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, but when it comes to vitamin C some winter produce tops the list.
“Citrus fruit have long been recognised as being high in vitamin C, which plays an important role in boosting the body’s immune defences,” says Bronwen.
“By taking a proactive approach to nutrition during winter, you may help to strengthen your immune system to ward off seasonal colds.”
Here are quick, easy tips on how to enjoy seasonal winter fruit.
Kiwifruit: The main variety of kiwifruit grown in New Zealand is the Hayward. One kiwifruit provides 191 per cent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C as well as dietary fibre, folate and potassium.
Easy recipe ideas: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and is the perfect time to include fruit. Kick the morning off with a chopped kiwifruit as a topping on cereal. Or for a treat, fold chopped kiwifruit into pancake mix before cooking. Mash or blend one peeled kiwifruit into your favourite vinaigrette or salad dressing for a fruity twist. Add sliced kiwifruit to mixed fruit or green salads, pasta and chicken salads. Or dice kiwifruit with capsicum and coriander for a fruity salsa to serve with grilled chicken or fish.
Mandarins: In New Zealand mandarins are mainly grown in Northland and Gisborne. One mandarin provides you with 90 per cent of your vitamin C requirements for the day.
Easy recipe ideas: For a healthy workday lunch, gently toss together cooked shredded chicken, salad greens, chopped cucumber, mandarin segments, snow peas, thinly sliced spring onion and sliced capsicum. Squeeze over the juice of half a lemon and a drizzle of olive oil. Freshly made salsas are a great way to add a sweet and tangy flavour burst to winter meals. Peel and dice mandarin segments and mix with finely chopped red onion, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, olive oil and chopped coriander. For an extra kick, add some chilli. Mix gently and serve with grilled chicken breast or with tacos.
Tamarillos: This red, egg-shaped fruit is a relative of the potato, tomato and eggplant. Tamarillos are a good source of vitamin C and also contain vitamins A and E for healthy skin and protection from free radical damage.
Easy recipe ideas: Use tamarillos in the same way as tomatoes to make sauces or chutney. However, avoid using the skin as this can be bitter. For a winter warming dessert, sprinkle halved tamarillos with caster sugar and red wine and place into a hot oven. Roast until hot and syrupy. Serve with low-fat Greek yoghurt. For a new twist on a classic winter favourite, the apple crumble, add sliced tamarillos with the sliced apple. For extra pep, add the juice and zest of an orange as well. Or for a quick and easy vitamin C boost to your day, scoop out the flesh of a tamarillo and add to a smoothie.
Lemons: Lemon juice prevents cut apples, pears and avocados from turning brown.
Easy recipe ideas: Freshen up a winter slaw with a lemon juice, red wine vinegar and olive oil dressing. Finely sliced fennel and chopped walnuts are a great addition for extra crunch. When roasting root vegetables, squeeze over the juice of one to two lemons and tuck the halves in around the vegetables. Once cooked squeeze over the juice of another half a lemon and sprinkle with plenty of chopped flat-leafed parsley. Knock up an Italian gremolata – finely grated lemon zest mixed with finely chopped parsley and garlic – and sprinkle over any number of savoury dishes minutes before serving.
Oranges: In days gone by, oranges played a vital role in preventing sailors from getting scurvy on long sea trips. Look out for New Zealand oranges from late July to early August. One orange provides over 100 per cent of your daily vitamin C requirement and also contains folate.
Easy recipe ideas: Oranges can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. For a colourful weeknight salad, peel and thinly slice oranges and toss with sliced red onion, feta cheese, olives and a homemade vinaigrette. Sprinkle over finely chopped fresh mint or coriander before serving. For a delicious toe-warming soup, try orange and carrot. In a large pot lightly sauté chopped onion and garlic before adding sliced carrot. Add some orange rind, along with enough vegetable stock to cover the vegetables. Simmer until the carrot has softened. Remove rind and use a stick blender to puree until smooth. For an extra hit of citrus, add the juice of a fresh orange to the soup puree. Top with chopped parsley.
Seasonal recipe to boost vitamin C intake:
Mandarin and kiwifruit salsa
Serves: 8 to 10
Preparation: 15 minutes
10 mandarins peeled, segmented and halved
4 kiwifruit peeled and chopped
2 sweet peppers, diced
1/2 chopped red onion
1 to 3 small chillies (1 for mild and 3 for hot)
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lemon
Fresh coriander, torn
Place all ingredients in a bowl and gently mix all ingredients together.
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