The festive season is upon us and for me my thoughts turn to food, I realised this is not actually seasonal I think I may just be obsessed with food. I always like to bring something different to the family Christmas and love getting creative in the kitchen. It can sometimes be hard to accommodate everyone’s tastes; in my family we have vegetarians, vegans, and also the staunch meat eaters so I have been trying to think of dishes that everyone will appreciate.
We are lucky here in New Zealand that Christmas coincides with summer time, therefore festive food probably looks quite different to that in the Northern Hemisphere. There is an abundance of fresh seasonal produce available at this time of year; this makes it especially easy to cater for the vegetarians we may have at our Christmas table.
Some key seasonal vegetables available now are beetroot, zucchini, capsicum, and avocado. All can be found at your local farmers market and each have an outstanding nutritional profile.
Beetroot – The beautifully rich colour of this root vegetable is a clue that it contains a lot of goodies. The phytonutrient compounds, giving the deep red/purple pigments (betalains), help to detoxify the body, they are anti-inflammatory and have anti-cancer properties. Beetroot has also been shown to lower blood pressure and improve stamina.
Zucchini – So versatile, this high potassium-containing vegetable is high in fibre, vitamin C and also Niacin (vitamin B3).
Capsicum – These colourful veges are full of anti-oxidants especially carotenoids and vitamin C, helping to reduce inflammation within the body. Of particular interest are 2 of the carotenoids – lutein and zeaxanthin which are vital for the health of our eyes.
Avocado – My favourite summer ingredient. The avocado packs a nutritious punch; the heart-healthy fats are a key nutrient, not only do these help you feel fuller and satisfy you; they are also anti-inflammatory, improve your blood lipid profile, and help with the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) found in other vegetables.
Festive Beetroot Salad
2 medium beetroot (grated)
3 large carrots (grated)
¼ cup of thread coconut
¼ cup of dried cranberries
1 cup of cooked quinoa or ancient grains mixture (optional)
¼ cup toasted seeds – sesame, pumpkin, sunflower
Large handful of fresh mint – chopped
To make: Fry the seeds in a little coconut oil until lightly browned. Grate the beetroot and carrot (I used the grating blade on my food processor), combine with other ingredients and pour over dressing, mix through.
Dressing: Mix together the juice of 2 oranges (about ½ cup) + 2 TBsp of pomegranate molasses (could substitute for honey but use 1 TBsp).
The addition of Quinoa gives this salad a bit more substance and provides protein for those that are not eating meat.