Figs are gaining popularity in New Zealand but can be hard to come by in shops. Figs are usually an expensive delicacy due to their short season. Your best bet is to befriend someone with a tree. These sweet fruits provide a small amount of a wide range of vitamins and minerals, along with some fibre.
Eat them fresh or slow-roast them to put on top of salads. You can also poach figs or use them like you would plums in cakes and tarts.
Fresh figs don’t keep for long, so may need to be refrigerated.
Silver beet is a popular addition to many Kiwi vege gardens because it’s very easy to grow.
The vegetable can be a great boost to many dishes. Try adding it, at the very end of cooking, to curries and stir-fries; shred and add it raw to salads to boost colour and nutrients; or add to a vegetable lasagne or pie.
An excellent source of vitamin A, silver beet also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which are antioxidants important for eye health.
Plant from September through to May. Regular cutting will result in more growth. Once the plant goes to seed, silver beet should be dug up.
When selecting marrow, make sure you pick one that’s not too large, otherwise it will be watery and bitter.
Roast it, stuff it, stir-fry it, or bake a marrow cake for something different. Its flesh has a mild flavour so is quite versatile.
Low in kilojoules, marrow is a good source of folate and also contains lutein (and a small amount of zeaxanthin) so it’s another vege good for eye health.
Stuffed marrows are delicious. Simply cut the marrow in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds, stuff with your favourite mixture (such as cooked chilli mince) then bake in the oven.
Fresh this month
Harvested in New Zealand gardens in March:
- Vegetables: Beetroot, broccoli, buttercup squash, butternut, green cabbage, capsicum, carrot, cauliflower, celery, courgette, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, garlic, onions, peas, potato, pumpkin, shallots, silver beet, snow peas, spinach, spring onion, sweet corn, tomato
- Herbs: Basil, chives, coriander, dill, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme
- Fruit: Apricots, blackberries, blackcurrants, blueberries, boysenberries, cherries, figs, nashi pears, nectarines, peaches, plums, raspberries, redcurrants
Article sources and references
- El-Sayed M et al. 2013. Dietary sources of lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids and their role in eye health. Nutrients 5:1169-85https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236188131_Dietary_Sources_of_Lutein_and_Zeaxanthin_Carotenoids_and_Their_Role_in_Eye_Health
- Sommerburg O et al. 1998. Fruits and vegetables that are sources for lutein and zeaxanthin: the macular pigment in human eyes. British Journal of Ophthalmology 82:907-10https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1722697/