Last week I got so excited about all the research into broccoli that I think I may have overwhelmed you slightly. I just can’t help it. I see these common vegetables, sitting on farmers market stalls or in the supermarket, and they don’t have packets on them. This means no health claims, no added anything, no enriched anything. Just basic food bursting with nutrients and flavour. So I’ve had a bit of a word with myself and this week, I’m going to be sharp and snappy.. as we’d rather be in the kitchen cooking this that spending all day reading about it!! Earlier today I was chatting to my vegetable supplier (Ballintubber Farm in East Cork – great vegetables!!) and he was telling me that the fields are bursting with leeks….
Healthy Eating with Leeks
Leeks are the part of Allium family, which also contains onions, shallots and scallions (but I think leeks are a little more delicate in flavour). All these vegetables share many health promoting properties and should be part of any healthy eating plan.
When selecting leeks try to go for ones that are firm and straight with dark green leaves and long white necks. Avoid leeks that are yellow, wilted, have bulbs or are overly large.
When storing leeks, keep in the fridge with a plastic bag wrapped tightly around them. What I tend to do it cut off the green tops as I rarely use these unless I’m making a stock, and then you can fit the plastic bag around them.
A great tip for cleaning leeks is cut once or twice lengthwise (not all the way up to the top), fan out the leeks and place under running water – only wash just before you are going to use them.
When cooking leeks, I simply slice them thinly, throw them into the pot with a little water and let them cook away for 5-10 mins. Flavours that go well with leeks are nutmeg, mustard, dill and chives.
In terms of health, leeks are a good source of manganese (needed for healthy skin, bones and cartilage and more importantly needed to activate SOD, the most powerful of anti-oxidants), Vitamin C (boost that immune system!!), B6, folate and iron.
Even better, leeks have sulphur containing phytonutrients (these seem to be coming up alot, don’t they!)As they are part of the Allium family, they share with garlic and onion the fact that they have been linked with increased heart health, lowering high blood pressure and stabilising blood sugar levels (remember that from last week?).