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Getting the best from your food




fruit-970Valuable foods we need to eat right now are those that are seasonal and fresh, but with the vegetable garden looking pretty sparse and limited access to fresh produce what’s next best?

When you go shopping what produce looks fresh? Does the broccoli or cauliflower feel firm and have good colour?

Won’t it be great to go to a farmers market again? Maximum nutrition is gained when fruits and vegetables are at their freshest and haven’t been stored or transported long distances. We are so lucky in New Zealand.

During autumn and heading to winter we are enjoying leeks/onions, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage (red and green,) carrots, celery, garlic, kumara, potato, pumpkin/squash, silver beet, spinach, turnips, watercress to name a few. Produce that is in season is always better priced.

A large cauliflower can be chopped, blanched and frozen, as with broccoli, a whole celery too (as celery doesn’t keep well in the fridge), except you can just wash celery, chop it and free flow freeze. Freezing retains nutrients successfully.

I like to wash my store-bought vegetables in a solution to lift pesticide residues. Place all the vegetables in the sink, add water to cover and add a good slosh of plain vinegar, swish around and soak for 15 minutes, then rinse well.

Any of these vegetables can be the makings of a beautiful soup. If you have celery and onion or leek, a clove of garlic and a couple of spices (a little ground cumin or curry powder, totally optional) and a vege stock cube all sauteed in a little olive oil you have the base for soup. Use what you have, onions store well, so make sure you keep a few on hand. Chop cauliflower, broccoli (and their leaves), also use silver beet stalks.

A pile of chopped pumpkin, kumara, carrot and cauliflower may be steamed and turned into a pile of tasty mash with a little olive oil, chopped parsley and seasoning. Steaming is a wonderful way of retaining nutrients in vegetables, use the concentrated remaining juice to add to soup stocks and casseroles. Ask for a stainless steel steamer at your local hardware store.

If you have fresh mint or parsley in the garden they are nutritional power houses and can be chopped and added to any soup, mash, steamed veg or salad. If frozen

produce is what is at hand, steam this for a very short time and add a good handful or chopped fresh parsley.

Alternatively create a simple salad by grating celery, cabbage, broccoli or cauli stalk, apple, carrot, add any fresh herbs. Toss all in a generous squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil, or a dollop of yummy homemade mayonnaise. Any of these suggestions make lovely accompaniments to your favourite protein choice, animal or vegetable.

§ Jan van der Lee is a clinical nutritionist based at Waipu Natural Health, ph (09) 432 1325, waipunaturalhealth.co.nz

Maximum nutrition is gained when fruits and vegetables are at their freshest…

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