Parks and recreation

Healthy cooking with the seasons December 2012

Summer Fruit of the month: Mango

Many would agree that mangoes are the taste of summer.  This tropical fruit is one of the most popular during the summer season.  Common varieties include bowen (or kensington pride), calypso, honey gold, keats and palmers.  Mangoes are an excellent source of Vitamins A and C as well as a good source of Potassium and contain beta carotene.  There is an enzyme in mango that aids digestion in the body and can also act as a tenderising agent which is ideal for marinades.

Choose mangoes that are free from bruises and blemishes.  A ripe mango will have a fruity aroma and be slightly soft to the touch, yielding to gentle pressure.  You can ripen a mango by placing it in a paper bag overnight with an apple at room temperature.  A ripened mango can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.  To prepare, cut down either side of the stone to remove cheeks.  You can also score the flesh of the cheeks then invert for easy eating.

Try: eating on its own, adding to a smoothie, make a fruit salad, add to muffins and cakes, topping for pavlova, making a salsa, add to cocktails, make chutney, serve with pancakes, add as a filling to rice paper rolls.

Goes with: chicken, prawns, fish, coconut, red onion, capsicum, tropical fruits, cucumber, rocket, corn, lime, coriander, avocado, chilli, mint, nuts, honey, rice.

Tip: Check out Mona's recipes with mangoes; "Super Greens Smoothie" and "Summer Salsa Salad" at the Healthy Eating Recipes section of the website.


Summer Vegetable of the month: Radish

The radish is a root vegetable that is closely related to mustard, horseradish and wasabi.  It comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours with the most recognised being the red and round cherry radish.  Radish has a crisp texture with a pungent, peppery flavour and is high in fibre and Vitamin C.  The bulb of the radish is usually eaten raw but can be steamed or roasted depending on the variety.

To prepare, wash well, trim off the leaves and roots then slice.  Radish is a versatile ingredient adding great colour and texture to dishes.  Treat it as you would raw onion.  Add it towards the end of the cooking process.  Growing radish is also a great way to get your vegetable garden started as they're easy to grow with seedlings that develop within a few days.

Try: eating on it's own, slicing and adding to salads, pickling it, roasting with other root vegetables, adding to stir fries, chop into a salsa, eating it with bread and butter.

Goes with: carrot, mint, orange, salad ingredients, mustard, Japanese food, fish, peas, beans, cucumber, lamb, beef, chicken, yoghurt, rice.

Tip: You can soak radish in ice cold water for approximately an hour before serving for extra crispiness!


Summer Herb of the month: Oregano

Oregano is a well known herb that is associated with Italian, Greek and Mexican cuisine.  It is related to mint and marjoram and the leaves can be used fresh or dried.  Oregano is a good source of iron and manganese as well as calcium, Vitamin C and Vitamin A.  To prepare, rinse and pat dry the leaves.  If chopping the leaves, make sure you chop just before using as you will lose the oil and the oregano will start to deteriorate.

When buying oregano, select bunches with bright leaves and no blemishes.  You can store fresh oregano in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks in a zip-lock bag.  Dried oregano has a more powerful flavour than fresh oregano and it can be stored in a cool, dry area for up to 6 months.

Try: infuse to flavour olive oil, sprinkle on pizzas, roast lamb on top of a bunch, add to a salad dressing, add dried oregano to stews and soups, add to tomato sauces, make oregano butter for a pasta sauce.

Goes with: lamb, chicken, fish, orange, chilli, cheeses (such as feta, haloumi), pasta, butter, corn, olives, pizza, garlic, olive oil, vegetables such as zucchini, beans, pumpkin, eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms and capsicums.

Tip: to dry oregano, remove the leaves from the stem and lay on paper towel, out of direct sunlight.  Store in an airtight container.

If you are after more information on healthy eating check out The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.  The guide includes information about the type of foods and quantities you need each day to ensure good health and wellbeing.

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