Monday, October 12, 2009

Green Machine

Despite the season being nearly over, kale is still about. Zucchinis are starting to enter the scene, though the season in Victoria has barely begun.

Grapefruit continues to be available and though often thought of as breakfast fare for the health conscious, this fruit makes a creative appearance in this week’s salad. With sweeter varieties around such as the ruby grapefruit there is no longer any need to shun this fruit for it’s sour taste. I recall many a morning as a young child piling on – yes – the white sugar in an attempt to make the fruit more palatable.

High in antioxidants, recent studies show that grapefruit can lower cholestrol levels. Other studies have indicated that people who eat grapefruit have lower than average levels of insulin in the blood. High in Vitamin C, grapefruit makes a great accompaniment to spinach and kale (see this week’s recipe), helping to improve the uptake of iron from the leafy greens. And for men, know that pink grapefruit is one of the lycopene-rich foods. Lycopene is known for it’s anti-tumour properties and particularly for it’s capacity to reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer .

Kiwifruit is well known as a nutritional powerhouse of vitamin C, but did you know that it is also a great source of Vitamin E and very high in folic acid (vitamin B). A lesser known fact about kiwifruit is that, despite being a vine, it is a member of the berry family. Some 90% of the fruit is water. With twice the amount of Vitamin E of avocadoes but only 60% of the avo calories, the humble kiwifruit is good nutrient value for money. Vitamin E is important for heart health and addressing vision loss. As an anti-oxidant nutrient Vitamin E has a role to play in any chronic disease where free radicals are causing havoc. This includes cancer and other inflammatory conditions. Kiwifruit is also higher in fat content than other fruits, behaving more like an avocado than a berry when used to bind a dressing or salsa. But don’t be concerned. The fat in kiwifruit is less than 1gram per serving (equating to about 8 calories).

Most kiwifruit is cultivated in New Zealand (one of our greatest exports - apart from us fabulously creative people), however in Victoria we fortunate to have Ian and Angela of Beenak Farms growing biodynamic kiwifruit beyond the Dandenongs near Yarra Junction. Vitamin C can be lost during storage, transportation and display of fruit, so it is good to know that the kiwifruit from the Beenak Biodynamic Farm have a food mile footprint of 50kms. But make the most of it, as the season is ending now.

Grapefruit and Green Salad with Kiwifruit Salsa

If the presence of longer days and warmer weather is prompting you to think healthy thoughts, then this low-fat dressing is the perfect accompaniment for a grapefruit and greens salad. Simple, refreshing and quick to make,

2 zucchini
100-150 gm (2-3 large handfuls) spinach or kale
½ tsp Himalayan crystal salt
Juice of ½ lemon (about 20mls)
1-2 ruby or white grapefruit
7-8 cherry tomatoes

Peel and cube the grapefruit. Remove the seeds, if necessary.
Cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters.
Julienne the zucchini or put them through the spiraliser to produce zucchini spirals.
Wash and de-vein the kale, then slice into 1 cm strips. (or loosely chop the spinach) Put in a bowl with about ½ tsp Himalayan crystal salt. Gently massage salt into the kale or spinach until it becomes limp. Then add lemon juice and massage again.

Toss together the grapefruit and greens.

Kiwifruit Salsa
1 stick celery
small handful parsley (reserve a few sprigs for garnish), with stalks removed
2-3 medium kiwifruit, peeled
¼ green capsicum
pepper to taste (optional)

Blend the above ingredients into a smooth salsa. Add water as needed to reach the required consistency.

Toss through the salad until the greens are entirely coated. Add the tomatoes.
Arrange on a plate and garnish with reserved sprigs of parsley.

Makes 2 large servings (yum, lunch) or 4 side salads.