In season: February

Some of us may start to feel bored with winter food (me!), but look, the days are getting longer and here and there hide the first signs of Spring.
Plus, February is the peak season for delicious fruits and vegetables! Here is a local selection valid for the UK and most northern Europe countries.

seasonal fruit veg february

Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, celeriac, kale, leeks, parsnips, potatoes, shallots, swedes, turnips, wild mushrooms, cabbage, winter squash…
End of season: beetroot and celery.
Beginning of season: rhubarb.

Apples, pears, clementines, lemon, oranges, kiwis, passion fruit, pomegranate…

Fish and seafood
Haddock, mussels, oysters, salmon…

Are you cooking this weekend? I will make an apple and rhubarb crumble, my daughter and I love it.


From SAD to glad, how to beat the winter blues

Today I am writing about Seasonal Affection Disorder (SAD) and how to manage it. SAD (what great acronym!) is a transient depression, typically happening during winter months (there is however summer-onset SAD too) when there is less natural sunlight and shorter daylight hours. Since I have lived in London, I have always struggled with it. Now are the shorter days in the year, the weather is grey, rainy and the temperatures unpleasantly mild. It seems never ending…

SAD facts
The prevalence of SAD varies depending on geographical locations and other factors. It is estimated that up to 10% of the population suffers from SAD, and it is more prevalent in women. It is also more widespread in those who had depression in the past, suffer from mental health disorder or have a family history of SAD. Interestingly, it is more common in people born in Spring and Summer.

SAD symptoms and mechanism
SAD usually manifests as low mood, decreased pleasure and increased irritability, lethargy, tiredness, weight gain…
The physiopathology of SAD is not yet completely clear, hormonal dysregulation and low vitamin D are likely involved.

How to fight SAD?
You can combine various strategies if you suffer from SAD.

  • Light therapy: Daily early morning exposure to bright light really helps with SAD. You can buy these devices online, aim for at least 10,000lux.
  • The alternative, and for me a must, is to spend time outdoors, particularly in the morning. Walk to your bakery or coffee place, sweep the leaves, walk the dog… This naturally increases your exposure to daylight, which is effective even in the cloudiest weather.
  • Interestingly, people suffering from SAD show different dietary habits, such as more snacking and more abundant dinners. However, no nutrition intervention has been proven efficient in managing SAD yet. Radically changing your diet when you are struggling is never a good idea, but if you want to reduce snacking, increase wholegrains and fibre rich food for better satiety, and lean protein for easier digestion.
    Make sure you get enough vitamin D and limit alcohol.
  • Physical activity helps release « good mood » hormones that will help you feel better. Again, no need to be extravagant, a 15-30min yoga or weight session, a brisk walk in the neighbourhood will do the job, even more so if share it with a friend.
  • Social connections is indeed one of the easiest way to increase happiness. So for your own well being, be (selfishly) kind to others 🙂
  • You can try mindfulness and relaxation if you like this sort of things. Personally, it makes me worse.
  • Anything that helps decrease your stress levels will help, as well as having things to look forward to.
  • Last, but absolutely necessary, seek professional help if you feel that SAD has too big an impact on your life.

My dear readers, if you suffer from SAD, soon the days will get longer and the skies brighter. Close your eyes and imagine your dream place. Mine is anywhere by the ocean, on a sunny day… Much love x


Alternatives to berries

Berries are not only delicious but also packed with health benefits due to their rich nutritional content. They are among the most antioxidant-rich fruits available. Low in calories and high in dietary fibre, berries are also good sources of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, potassium, and folate. We are now at the end of berry season in the UK, but the good news is that you can find great alternatives:

  • Several studies show that frozen or dry berries contain similar levels of antioxidants to the fresh fruits. They are easy to find year round, I like to add them to cakes, porridge, granola or have them as a snack.
  • Green tea, rich in catechins (a polyphenol) and black tea.
  • Coffee: a known good source of polyphenols.
  • Apples: the highest concentration of polyphenols is in the skin, but wash the fruit before eating it. Pears are another good seasonal alternative.
  • Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are abundant during cold months and rich in flavonoids and vitamin C.
  • (unpeeled, canned) tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which is released and becomes more available for absorption when tomatoes are cooked. You can boil, bake, sauté, or make tomato sauce, paste, or soup to increase lycopene content. Lycopene is fat-soluble, so add a dash of EVOO to increase absorption.
  • Garlic and onions will add flavour and antioxidants to your winter recipes.
  • Leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts…

You can see from this list that a way to add nutrients to your plate is adding colours: red, orange, green… the reason is that antioxidants are often pigments. Incorporating a diverse selection of colourful foods into your diet is therefore a simple manner to ensure that you are benefiting from the array of antioxidants and phytonutrients that contribute to overall health and well-being.


In season: April

Spring is finally here! A weird Spring for sure, for many of us are quarantined because of coronavirus. While we are social distancing, nature is bursting and brings delicious fruit and vegetables to our table.

Sourcing fresh fruit and vegetables can be tricky these days. Remember that tinned and frozen are valid alternatives. Frozen and tinned fruit and veg can be cheaper than fresh, they are usually picked at when they are full-grown and mature meaning a higher content in micronutrients.

To finish, please shop sensibly: do not stockpile yet do not go out too often, and rinse your fresh fruit and veg carefully.


Apples and pears are still in season in April, so are kiwis, oranges, pomelo, lemons and limes. You may find the first local varieties of strawberries in your shop as well as rhubarb. Ideal to bake a pie or crumble!


As you can see above, caulis and cabbage, beetroots are still in season. Versatile cucumber and carrots too, and you may find the first asparagus. Leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach are a good means to add vitamins and minerals to your plate.

Whether you have them fresh, tinned or frozen, enjoy your fruit and veg!