Lighten up (+ recipes)
My morning routine in Wanaka involves walking up to the vegetable garden, located, somewhat inconveniently, a good 300m up the hill. Along the way I can smell spring in the warm soil and real heat, on my back from the sun.
It's all so promising but, when I get to the garden, spring hasn't actually sprung yet. Yes, seeds are germinating in a blanket of the softest green, but in terms of things to pick, it's a bit of a Mother Hubbard scene.
With spring in the air, the thought eating of rib-sticking soups and stews feels far too wintry. Our appetites are honed and ready for fresher, brighter tastes (and, after a winter of hearty fare, we're likely decidedly pudgier and want to feel lighter too).
Cabbage and any of the other crucifers make a great partner in the endeavour to lighten things up. These include horseradish, rocket, radishes, watercress and the brassicas - broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy and all the cabbages. Stronger flavours are found in swedes, turnips, collards, kale and brussels sprouts.
Crucifers are highly nutritious and provide protection against a number of diseases. Such is their goodness that some years ago the World Health Organisation recommended that everyone should eat at least one vegetable from this family every day.
In my garden, the last of the winter cabbages are still hanging in there and, being one of the milder crucifer options, will please almost everyone. What better way to enjoy them than in these light Asian-inspired dishes?
The colonisation of Vietnam by the French brought banh mi to the world. The baguette was introduced in the late 19th century by the French colonial rulers, and served with butter and preserves or sometimes in a savoury form with pate or ham and cheese.
The Vietnamese started to include their own ingredients, evolving the famous sandwich we enjoy today. Get the recipe
In Japan these tasty little pancakes go by the name of okonomiyaki. To save time, use two pans to cook them. Get the recipe
Thinly slice the crisp white bases of bok choy stalks into salads to deliver a real crunch of freshness. With their mild flavour, they can be also finely chopped as a substitute for bean sprouts.
Transform this simple salad into a main course by adding cooked chicken or prawns, or some pan-fried tofu for a vegetarian option. Get the recipe
BePure Live Well Festival
For more light and tasty spring recipes join me at the BePure Live Well Festival at The Cloud, Auckland waterfront, on October 15 and 16.
On the Saturday at 2.45pm I'll be demonstrating quick and easy recipes that'll help you get more fresh seasonal vegetables into your day, and on the Sunday morning I'll be signing books and launching my new summer annual.
For more great Annabel Langbein recipes see her new winter annual Annabel Langbein A Free Range Life: Share the Love (Annabel Langbein Media, $24.95) or visit annabel-langbein.com.