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Healthy cooking with the seasons August 2012

Fruit of the month: Oranges

Oranges are a citrus fruit and great example of the seasons being in tune with our nutritional needs. They are packed with Vitamin C and at their peak during the cold and flu season. Popular varieties include Seville, Blood, Valencia, and Navel. The creamy white part of the orange (and other citrus fruits) is called the pith and can be quite bitter. The juice, flesh and zest of the orange can all be used.

Choose oranges that are firm, unblemished and feel heavy for their size. Oranges can still be ripe even with some green patches on the skin. They do not ripen after harvest. Store oranges at room temperature or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

  • Try: eating them on their own, chopping them up in a salad, juicing them to drink, using the juice in a salad dressing, add them to desserts, zesting the rind into sweet and savoury dishes, making marmalade, chopped in a fruit salad, making sorbet or ice cream, adding to sauces.
  • Goes with: pork, chicken, duck, fennel, honey, Moroccan spices, cinnamon, cloves, brandy, almonds, coconut, mint, chocolate, some seafood.
  • Tip: Roll or ‘bruise’ your orange (or any other citrus fruit) for 30 seconds to get the juices going.

 

Vegetable of the month: Broccoli

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable and can be eaten both cooked and raw. It’s high in fibre, potassium, Vitamin B and contains phytonutrients that can prevent cancer, slow aging and reduce the risk of heart disease. It is one of the most versatile vegetables and can be used in many different ways. Cooked broccoli should be tender enough so that it can be pierced with a sharp knife, and still remain crisp and bright green in colour.

When choosing broccoli, avoid buying heads with pale or yellow buds as this can mean it’s about to flower. Choose stalks that are firm and green, not woody or soft. To keep broccoli fresh, store it for 3 -5 days in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. You can also store broccoli by freezing it. Peel the leaves from the stalk and steam it for 5 minutes. Cool, and then place in a sealed plastic bag. Broccoli can be stored in the freezer for up to 10 months.

  • Try: steaming it for an easy side dish, add to pasta dishes, make broccoli soup, perfect for stir fries, add to risotto, eat florets with a dip, put it on a pizza, in casseroles.
  • Goes with: fish, lemon, chicken, cheese, cream, Asian flavours (soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and ginger), white wine sauce, bacon, butter, rice.
  • Tip: Steaming broccoli is the best way to retain all the nutrients and minerals. Too many nutrients are lost when boiling.

 

Herb of the month: Sage  

Sage is a silvery green plant with aromatic leaves. It’s a hardy herb with a strong flavour so a little bit can go along way. Sage is high in Vitamin A and C and is a great source of anti-oxidants. All you need to do is give the leaves a wash and either chop or tear into dishes.

Unlike more delicate herbs, you can add sage during the cooking process rather than at the end of cooking. Choose sage with relatively small leaves and no discolouration. Store in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to three days.

  • Try: making sage tea, add to risottos, great in pasta dishes such as gnocchi, add it to stuffing in roast meat, infuse with extra virgin olive oil to drizzle over food.
  • Goes with: chicken, veal, lamb, pork, duck, turkey, prosciutto, butter, parmesan cheese, goats cheese, peas, broad beans, pumpkin, onion, tomato, corn, carrots, garlic.
  • Tip: Shallow fry for 1 minute (or until the leaves go dark green and crispy) and serve on top of soups.

 

If you are after more information on healthy eating check out The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.  The guide includes information about the type of foods and quantities you need each day to ensure good health and wellbeing.

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