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Corner-shop superfoods

apples in a box
In an ideal world, we write a weekly menu, plan our shop and have fridge, freezer and cupboards filled with delicious ingredients for healthy meals. But we all know that life doesn’t work like that. I’m the first to admit that I sometimes need to pop to the local mini-market or corner shop before I can make dinner from the contents of my kitchen. Or I might buy one or two ingredients on the way home to add to the vegetables from my delivery box or the fish I’ve taken out of the freezer that morning. Don’t worry. Despite majoring on cheap, convenience food, most local shops will have a few superfood essentials tucked among the sweets, crisps and instant noodles. These are the ones I head for…

Apples - helping the gut settle
An apple is an ideal snack; easy to carry, tasty to eat and packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which can help to protect against cancer and heart disease. Apples contain a natural polysaccharide called pectin; when the apples are cooked, this is particularly effective at settling an overactive or nauseous feeling gut. A sip of fresh apple juice can be very soothing if you’re feeling sick from cancer treatment. 

Try this:
Stewed apples 
• Baked apples. Remove the core and fill the hole with a mix of sultanas, cinnamon and a little muscavado sugar. Add a dot of butter on top and bake for 20 minutes at 180°C.


Beetroot – a good source of antioxidants
Beetroot’s rich, purple colour comes from powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins that help to support the immune system – important when you are undergoing treatment such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy that can compromise your resistance to bugs. Beetroot is also a great source of betain, which is traditionally thought to help support the liver.

Try this:
• Make beetroot into a fresh juice, with apple, fresh ginger, carrot and spinach.
• It’s also delicious roasted in a little coconut oil and then mashed on toast with a dab of hummus on top.


Single cream – calorie dense for small appetites
Although double and whipping cream have higher energy contents, single cream has a slightly higher protein content, due to its higher casein (milk protein) levels. This can help your body to build muscle, which is important if you’ve been losing weight through fighting disease such as cancer, or have had an infection. Single cream can also be easier to digest than the higher-fat thicker creams.

Try this:
• Add single cream to scrambled eggs, stir it through a soup to make it feel less acidic and increase its calorie content, or add to potatoes to make a luxurious mash.


caggabe

Cabbage – rich in iron to give you strength
Cabbage, especially the dark Savoy-style cabbages, are an excellent source of vitamins and essential minerals. It can help to boost our iron intake – squeeze a little lemon or lime juice over the leaves before you eat, to aid absorption. Cabbage is also a great source of fibre; just be careful if your gut is unsettled or overly windy, as it can be tough for a sensitive gut to digest.

Try this:
• Steam cabbage leaves and use as an alternative to pita bread. I love them filled with naturally smoked mackerel, watercress, avocado and yoghurt – soft, moist and delicious!


garlic chopped

Garlic – keeps the heart healthy
One of the most powerful plant medicines for keeping the body healthy. It regulates blood pressure and improves circulation, especially to the heart, and helps convert dangerous LDL cholesterol into healthy HDL cholesterol. On top of all this, it has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and immune-boosting properties.

Try this:
• Enjoy garlic raw in a salad dressing with good olive oil and lemon juice.
• It’s also wonderful roasted, as the flavours are far gentler and can be great to tempt a jaded palette.


Lemons – source of vitamin C and appetite-kicker
We know that lemons are rich in vitamin C, which is tried and tested for treating colds, flu and sore throats. But it also contains a lesser known antioxidant, called limonin, which is thought to have some anti-cancer properties. Vitamin C is destroyed by heat, so you’re best enjoying the juice uncooked.

Try this:
• Drizzle lemon juice on fresh greens just before serving or in salad dressings.
• Try sipping a little freshly squeezed lemon juice in a small glass of water before a meal to get the taste buds primed.
• Lemon rind and lemon juice freezes well. Pare the peel off and freeze for future teas, or make up a ice cube tray with fresh lemon juice, freeze and then use one by one in a fresh vegetable or fruit juice or to give a kick to a dip like hummus.


basket tomatoes

Tomatoes – packed with healing lycopene
The deeper red the tomato, the more lycopene it generally contains. This antioxidant is thought to help reduce the incidence of many cancers, including cancer of the prostate. Lycopene levels intensify even more when the tomatoes are cooked, and they can also become far more appetising and easier to digest this way also.

Try this:
• I love them tray-baked in a little cold-pressed rapeseed oil and then served with a fresh burrata.


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