A is for apricots

ApricotsThe apricot season is almost upon us! Look out for fresh apricots and make the most of this nutritious and delicious orange fruit, because the season is short,  writes Dr Susan Aldridge, guest blogger, freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition.  

Also, their shelf-life is short and fresh apricots should be eaten within a day or so. Fortunately, dried apricots are available all year round.

Dried apricots with sulphite preservatives actually look very like the fresh fruit – both being orange. Organic apricots, without sulphites, are brown. They may look less appealing but are probably better for you, as some people are sensitive to sulphites.

Like other stone fruit (plums, peaches), apricots pack a big nutritional punch for very few calories and are easy to carry around as a healthy snack or addition to a lunch box.

Apricots are a good source of:

• Carotenoids, which are converted to vitamin A – a powerful antioxidant – in the body
• Fibre, including soluble fibre which lowers cholesterol
• Catechins – the phytochemicals also found in green tea, which are anti-inflammatory
• Xanthophylls which, along with carotenoids, help protect eye health.

Very Orange Juice
Serves one

Three carrots, sliced
Thee oranges, peeled and segmented
Three apricots, stoned and halved
One inch piece of ginger, peeled

Juice and drink immediately

Apricot and Manchego Salad

This is a fusion of one of my favourite picnic combos (fresh apricots and Manchego) and a classic tomato and mozzarella salad.
Serves two

Six fresh apricots, stoned and quartered
One tub of sundried tomatoes, chopped
100g tomatoes, sliced or halved (use a combination of differently coloured shaped and coloured tomatoes to add variety)
One tub of mozzarella balls
100g Manchego cheese, cubed

Mix all ingredients and finish with torn basil and a splash of oil (I used flaxseed oil but olive or walnut oil would work too). I like to sprinkle the salad with some chilli powder or flakes.

Quorn Chicken Tagine
Serves two

One red onion, chopped
Two cloves garlic, crushed
One pack Quorn chicken pieces
75g dried apricots, chopped
100g flaked almonds
400g tomato sauce or tinned tomatoes
1 tsp Ras-el-hanout
1 tbps rose harissa paste
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sumac
250g couscous
Pomegranate seeds
Coriander, chopped

Fry the onion and garlic in coconut oil to soften, and add chicken and spices. Cook for 5 mins or so till browned and then add tomatoes, almonds and apricots. Turn down heat and simmer for around 45 minutes. Meanwhile, add 300ml boiling water to the couscous and leave for 5 minutes. Fluff/fork before serving. Serve the chicken with the couscous and finish with pomegranate seeds and coriander.

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