Try some of the more unusual fruit and veg in season this month – and check out the latest healthy products on the shelf.
Want a new way to get another serve of veg into your day? Throw a few ‘Qukes’ baby snacking cucumbers into your lunchbox! Their small size makes them a perfect addition to any healthy lunchbox; you can also chop them into salads or serve with dips (try one made from natural yoghurt, chopped mint and minced garlic). They are also the perfect size for small hands, making them a good choice for little ones. Just one of these baby Lebanese cucumbers is a serve of vegies, with only 38kJ and a healthy dose of fibre. You can find them in supermarkets now.
This uniquely-coloured tomato changes from bright green to dark reddish-brown when ripe, and can be eaten at all stages. They are sweeter than most other varieties, but they have a similar nutrition profile to regular tomatoes (86kJ per 100g). They are also a source of vitamin A and potassium, and contain 40% of the RDI for vitamin C. Store them at room temperature and use them as you would any other type of tomato.
Figs are small, pear-shaped fruit, with a thin edible skin. They range widely in colour, but are most often sold when pale green, ripening to a deep purple colour. They have sweet, pulpy, deep crimson flesh, with tiny edible seeds that give them a slightly granular texture. When purchasing, figs should be soft, but free from splits in the skin. Available between December and May, you can enjoy figs on their own, in desserts or add them to green salads for a bit of sweetness. Ripe figs deteriorate quickly, so should be enjoyed as close to purchasing as possible (but they will last in the fridge for 1–2 days). Before eating, simply wash and trim the stems. You can peel figs, but it’s not necessary. Two figs (about 100g total) equal a serve of fruit and contain 195kJ, 3.3g fibre and 180mg potassium.
Tips for cooking with figs
For a yummy entrée, smear halved figs with a little goat’s cheese or blue cheese and top with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. For a sweet treat, sprinkle halved figs with brown sugar and grill until golden.
If you are looking for an alternative to bread slices (or are just tired of toppings falling off little biscuits), try new Vita-Weat Lunch Slices. With only 650kJ per serve(2 biscuits), they’re high in fibre and are available in flavours such as Poppy, Sunflower & Rye or Soy, Linseed & Sesame. A great addition to the lunchbox.
Greek and natural yoghurts
Unlike most of Vaalia’s other offerings, their Greek-style yoghurt is not a low-fat option (10.4g per 100g serve), though it does contain the probiotics that assist with digestive health. It’s also gluten-free and made without artificial sweeteners, colours, flavours or preservatives.
Danone’s new varieties of Greek-style yoghurt contain real fruit pieces and have just hit the shelves. With approximately 900kJ per 150g tub, they are not low-fat (12.0g fat per 150g tub), but they are high in calcium and protein.
The newest addition to the Thick & Creamy range, Dairy Farmers Natural Style Sweetened Yoghurt is 98% fat-free, has 695kJ per 170g serve and has the most calcium of the bunch (330mg calcium per 170g).
Made from milk containing A2 protein (which may be better tolerated than regular milk by those who have digestive problems), Jalna Low Fat Natural Creamy Yoghurt with A2 is 98.7% fat-free, reduced-lactose and traditionally pot-set.
Boysenberries, gooseberries and loganberries
Boysenberries were developed by crossing different strains of blackberries, loganberries and raspberries. They are large, slightly soft, deep maroon-coloured berries with very fine hairs. Juicy and sweet-tart in flavour, boysenberries are available from December to February. Boysenberries should ideally be used as soon as possible after purchasing, since they deteriorate quickly. If they have been stored in the fridge, remove them half an hour before eating as their flavour is best at room temperature. Per 100g: 184kJ, 3g fibre (good source), 63µg folate (16% RDI)
Gooseberries, which are available in December and January, have thin, finely-veined skin and taste quite tart when fully ripe (making them a good choice for jams and pies). They are picked and sold when still immature – they continue to ripen after picking – so when purchasing, look for yellow-green berries that are firm and blemish-free, and they’ll last for up to a week in the fridge. You may want to test berries until they get to the degree of ripeness you prefer – just be sure to ‘top and tail’ them before eating! Per 100g: 184kJ, 4.3g fibre, 290IU vitamin A (10–12% RDI)
Loganberries are a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry, but with a much sharper, more tart taste. They are a purple-red colour when ripe, and look like a large raspberry. Once purchased, transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate, cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Make sure you consume them soon after purchasing. Available between November and February (and into early March), loganberries can be eaten raw or cooked into pies, tarts and jams. Per 100g: 293kJ, 8g fibre (26–32% RDI), 25µg beta-carotene, 0.6g iron (3–8% RDI)