The warm spell of weather that we are blessed with right now has brought on the emerging of many of our spring greens, herbs and blossoms. I adore this time of year, when nature really ‘springs’ back to life after the dormant winter. Scraping back the leaves I uncovered my beloved nettle patch this morning. I cherish my wild back garden and take great pride in my abundant nettles! Keeping them cut short once they grow up in the summer keeps the prime young tips coming, which is what we want for use in our diets. Mine will grow now until late autumn, when I will harvest the last young leaves to dry in the dehydrator for use in teas throughout the winter.
This weeks series of posts will include five new ‘superfoods’ to add to your diet. At this time year, some times we can get too focused on what we are giving up from our diets, though how much better we could feel if we switch that to what we will add in! I like to think of a living food diet as one of abundance, rather than denial. When we make that shift to adding in lots of new exciting foods, the old unhealthier ones will naturally drop away. As spring seems to be well and truly upon us now, what better time to add some new local, seasonal superfoods into your diet to help that detox along?
Having been exploring raw foods for many years now, I have adapted the diet I discovered whilst travelling in tropical climates to one that supports our local and seasonal produce here in the UK. For me, it is so important to focus on these foods, and feel that eating this way puts me more in touch with nature. I am going to be excited as ever watching all the spring cleansing greens appear, wait patiently until summer to gorge on fresh berries and tomatoes, and switch back to my earthier, warmer diet of roots and squashes as autumn rolls in. But for now, it’s all about shaking off the winter layers and lightening up with fresh, wild greens, flowers and berries! Some of the plants I am going to posting about may take a few more weeks to appear where you are if you live in the UK, but here’s a start to get your eyes opening to the abundance that grows all around us.
My first favourite recipe, which is going to be a staple in my diet, is my Wild Garlic Pesto. Wild garlic (also known as ramsons) carpet the floors of woodlands from early spring until early summer, and you can smell them before you spot them! They have a lovely strong, garlic flavour within a broad, bright green leaf, which grown in clusters around a main stem with a white flower bulb, which can also be eaten. You can use the leaves in salads, but my I like to make them into pesto, which I use on raw veg noodles, stirred into warm grains or on raw crackers. I keep my recipes very simple, using very few ingredients, but you can change the seeds/nuts to vary the taste, or make it with a mixture of wild garlic and other green herbs like parsley if you wish. I use sunflower seeds as they are so cheap compared to pine nuts traditionally used in pesto, and have a mild flavour which lets the strong taste of the wild garlic through. Wild garlic is high in vitamins A, B and C, and contains the same antiseptic, anti bacterial and antitoxic effects as onions and garlic, so they are great for digestive cleansing. The sunflower seeds contain protein and vitamin E, and the flax seed oil is high in omega 3 fatty acid. The pesto will keep in the fridge for weeks as long as you keep a layer of oil on the top.
2 handfuls Wild garlic leaves
½ cup sunflower seeds (or pine nuts, pumpkin seeds seeds, walnuts, pecans…)
½ cup flax seed oil
1 Tbsp Nutritional yeast flakes
½ tsp salt
Put the seeds at the bottom of a blender, add oil and blend until the nuts are broken down. Add the washed and torn wild garlic leaves and stems, salt and nutritional yeast flakes. Blend until creamy and transfer into sterilized jars, sealing the top of each jar with some oil to preserve the pesto.