According to the latest Waitrose Food and Drink Report, sales of fresh herbs are on the up, which is great because, as well as tasting and looking wonderful, they’re high in iron, vitamin C and folate. But to get the benefit, a sprig won’t do it – a decent handful is more like it. Here are some of my favourite ways to eat them – they’re all quick and easy, but have loads of flavour.
İn a salad: A 15 g serving of mint contains 1.4 mg iron (10 percent of the daily recommendation) and is a good amount to have in a courgette, mint and feta salad (prepare ribbons of the courgette with a potato peeler).
Piled into pesto: Homemade pesto is so simple to make and basil has twice as much calcium per 100g as milk so it’s a good vegan source of this mineral. Coriander and mint also combine to make a great a pesto – to make, use about 75g of your chosen herbs, whizzed with 50ml olive oil, 30g of Parmesan and 15-20g pine nuts (or alternative nuts such as pistachios or cashews).
Teamed with pasta or rice: A simple meat-free risotto made with a good veg stock and a couple of handfuls of fresh herbs mixed through at the end, along with some peas and Parmesan, is so delicious Basil, chives and chervil work brilliantly. Or, for a herby pasta, stir lots of fresh oregano and/or flat-leaf parsley through your pasta, with olive oil and a crack of black pepper.
NUTRION EXPERT HERBS Photo Gallery
SCALED UP BENEFITS?
Is it worth investing in a smart nutrition scale which tells you the calories and nutrients in your food, not just what it weighs & When I tested the Situ Smart food nutrition scales (£59.99; situscale. com) I wasn’t sure I’d be convinced, but I loved them. The scales have a comprehensive food-composition database incorporated, so when you select the item you’re weighing (e.g. apple or chicken) you get a full calorie and nutritional breakdown sent to your phone or iPad using Bluetooth. It means you can work out the calorie content of your own recipes and how much of important nutrients such as calcium and iron you’regetting, as well as whether you’re eating too much sugar or saturated fat. I’d particularly recommend the scales if you’ve lost weight and want to keep it off, as it can stop you relying on calorie- counted ready meals and give you the confidence to cook your own food from scratch.
SHOULD I TRY CARB CYCLING?
Is carb cycling a good way to control your weight?
There’s no fixed way to carb cycle, but the concept generally involves alternating low- and high-carb days, usually fitting the lower-carb days to when you’re less active and vice versa. I don’t believe it has any special weight-control magic, but knowing you can have plenty of carbs some days may make controlling eating them easier. However, at its most extreme – when people get into obsessively counting ‘macros’ for example – it becomes a little bit extreme and worrying. By all means, tailor your carb intake to your activity level, and maybe have a low-carb day the day before needing to look your bloat-free best. But be aware that longer-term weight control is more about overall calorie intake than just tweaking one nutrient.