Take full advantage of stone fruit season with three recipes prepared by celebrity chef Zola Nene. That sweet, juicy bite of the first peach of summer is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It signals the start of long, sunny days and living more lightly and brightly over the coming months.
But first Mzansi, did you know that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables can significantly reduce stress and anxiety? This is according to researchers from the Edith Cowen University in Australia who say people who eat at least 470 grams of fruit and vegetables daily, have 10% lower stress levels than those who consumed less than 230 grams.
Lead researcher, PhD candidate Simone Radavelli-Bagatini from ECU’s Institute for Nutrition Research, says the study strengthens the link between diets rich in fruit and vegetables and mental wellbeing.
“We found that people who have higher fruit and veggie intakes are less stressed than those with lower intakes, which suggests diet plays a key role in mental wellbeing,” says Radavelli-Bagatini.
A growing issue
Mental health conditions are an increasing problem around the world. Globally, approximately 1 in 10 people live with a mental health disorder.
According to Radavelli-Bagatini, some stress is considered normal, but long-term exposure can significantly impact mental health.
Food and mood
While the mechanisms behind how fruit and vegetable consumption influences stress are still unclear, Radavelli-Bagatini says key nutrients could be a factor.
“Vegetables and fruits contain important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, flavonoids and carotenoids that can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, and therefore improve mental wellbeing.”
Eat happy foods this summer
Mzansi is fortunate to harvest a bounty of delicious stone fruit, and the most popular among them are the fresh peaches, nectarines, and plums. Not only are they delicious, but incredibly versatile. Peaches, nectarines and plums also add fantastic nutritional value to our family diet.
They are widely regarded as safe fruit for people with Type 2 diabetes, because eaten in moderation they do not cause blood sugar spikes. Perhaps, best of all, they provide a unique fruity punch of health-protective nutrients including potassium and antioxidants such as vitamins C, A, E, K and niacin (vitamin B-3).
Celebrity chef Zola Nene prepares three dishes that can help you get creative with stone fruit.
Plum smoothie bowl
3 plums, chopped
1 peach/nectarine, chopped
¼ cup plain yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla
Honey to taste
2 tbsps mixed seeds
1 cup crushed ice
½ cup peach juice
- Combine ingredients in a blender, blend until smooth, then transfer into serving bowls. Top with sliced plums and seeds to serve.
Spicy peach chicken wings
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped ginger
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp chopped thyme
4 cling peaches, diced
1 cup water
3 tbsp sriracha sauce
2 tbsp honey
16 chicken wings
2 tbsp chicken spice
2 tsp olive oil
- Heat oil in a saucepan, add onions, ginger, chilli flakes and thyme and sauté until onions soften.
- Add peaches and water, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 20 minutes or until peaches are soft.
- Blend until smooth (I use an immersion blender).
- To the blended sauce, add sriracha and honey, then simmer until reduced by half.
- Preheat oven to 180°C (the wings can also be cooked in the air fryer).
- Place the chicken wings into a roasting tray, season with chicken spice, drizzle with olive oil, then roast/ air fry for 20 minutes.
- Drizzle wings with half of the sauce, toss well and continue to roast/air fry for another 30 minutes or until the wings are sticky and browned.
- Serve the remaining sauce as a dip for the wings.
Nectarine stuffed pork
1 nectarine, finely chopped
¼ cup breadcrumbs
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp paprika
¼ cup finely chopped spinach
50g butter, melted
Salt and pepper
400g pork fillet
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup water
- Stuffing: In a bowl, combine the chopped nectarine, breadcrumbs, garlic, thyme, paprika, spinach and butter, season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Clean the pork fillet by removing any excess fat and sinew.
- Make a lengthwise slit in the pork, then cut along that slit to butterfly and open the fillet to flatten it on both sides.
- Using a meat mallet, flatten the pork more to even it out.
- Season the pork with salt and pepper, then place the stuffing onto the surface of the flattened pork, roll (from one short end to the other) to encase the filling.
- Use butcher’s twine to secure the roll.
- Season the outside with salt and pepper.
- Heat olive oil in a pan, then brown the pork on all sides until golden.
- Add water to the pan, cover with a lid then simmer for 10 minutes, or until the pork is cooked through. Remove from the pan, cover with foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
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