Thursday 1st March 2018 is St. David’s Day – the patron saint of Wales – and this year, there’s an even better reason to celebrate Wales’ most famous, in season food – the humble leek.
From keeping sore throats at bay to improving the quality of the singing voice, leeks have long been known as the fat-free, nutrient rich answer to staying healthy and helping to combat colds. New research now shows that leeks are also beneficial to our gut health, which experts increasingly believe is crucial to our overall health.
Leeks contain a prebiotic called inulin and the research shows that prebiotics could promote good sleep and reduce stress. So instead of wearing a leek to mark Wales’ national day, chop and cook one instead – your body will thank you for it!
In addition to boosting gut health, leeks have a host of other health benefits:
- Boosting mood – prebiotics cause changes to the gut microbiome which are now known to affect emotions, mood and cognition.
- Immune boosting – leeks contain a compound called allicin which is anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal, making them perfect to protect from winter coughs and colds
- Heart health – leeks are high in antioxidant polyphenols which help protect blood vessels and blood cells. They are also rich in heart healthy vitamins.
- Bone health – leeks provide Vitamin K, calcium, manganese and magnesium which are all important bone building nutrients
- Weight management – leeks contain inulin which forms a gel like substance when combined with water and expands in the digestive tract which can help decrease appetite and cravings
If you want to give this superfood a try, then this vegan tabbouleh recipe could be just the things for you:
Quinoa Tabbouleh with Shredded Leeks and Preserved Lemon
This delicious Middle Eastern dish is fresh and zingy with the addition of preserved and fresh lemon. Using quinoa keeps this gluten free while adding plenty of protein and fibre to keep you feeling fuller for longer. For additional protein try adding a can of chickpeas or slices of grilled chicken breast.
Serves 4 as a main course or 8 as a side dish
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
- 200g quinoa
- 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 bunch fresh mint, finely chopped
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 2 tbsp capers
- 120ml extra virgin olive oil
- 2 leeks, shredded
- Drizzle of olive oil for frying
- 1 red onion, finely diced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 cucumber, deseeded and finely diced
- 4 vine ripe tomatoes deseeded and diced
- 1 preserved lemon, rind only, chopped
What To Do:
- Rinse the quinoa in cold water. Place the quinoa in a pan with 525ml water. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Place the herbs, garlic, capers, lemon juice and olive oil in a blender and process until smooth. Pour the dressing over the quinoa. Allow the mixture to sit with the pan covered for 10 minutes.
- Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and lightly saute the leeks for 2-3 minutes until just soft.
- Combine all the remaining ingredients with the leeks in a large bowl. Add the lemon infused quinoa and toss well. Taste and season if necessary.
Nutritional Analysis per serving (as a main meal, 4 portions)
Calories 483kcal, fat 33.3g, saturates 4.6g, carbohydrates 32.7g, sugars 8.2g, fibre 7.3g, protein 9.3g, salt 0.8g
Leeks are fabulously versatile and can be enjoyed in all sorts of ways including sautéing, stir-frying, baking, roasting, braising and even adding raw to salads. Simply boiling leeks will turn the veg soft with a mild taste, while frying gives crunchy leeks with a stronger flavour. So whatever you prefer to eat, then just make sure you’re adding leeks from time to time!
*recipes used with permission from www.britishleeks.co.uk.
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