Ingredient Spotlight: PLUMS

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This week's weather has been a clear reminder that we're in a period of transition, from the heat and energy of Summer to the abundance, preservation and contraction of Autumn. 
Today's featured ingredients perfectly embodies this transitional period, as it can be both Summery and refreshing, and warming and Autumnal: I am talking about PLUMS!

Plums are not only delicious, they're also very good for you! The antioxidants and phytonutrients in plums may help fight breast cancer, and contain anthocyanin and quercetin which may be beneficial for preventing brain cell breakdown and preserving memory functions. They are a source of potassium, a mineral important to heart health, and are rich in vitamin C which helps increase the absorption of iron. Plums are a moderate source of vitamin A and ß-carotene, and contain significant amounts of zeaxanthin, an important dietary carotenoid that is thought to provide antioxidant and protective UV light-filtering functions. Moreover, plums are rich in fibre and contain sorbitol, which coupled with their high water content are great for digestion. 

I love this juicy stone fruit, with its sweet and tart flavour, that works well in both hot and cold, sweet and savoury preparations, which makes plums the perfect ingredient to have on hand in the last weeks of Summer. 

On the last warm days, I like to make a simple yet flavourful black rice, tofu and plums salad - it's delicious at room temperature and perfect for your lunch box. I simply cook black rice (but any other whole grain will do, I especially love spelt) – if I have any open coconut milk or stock, I will add it to the cooking water for an extra flavour boost – mix it with some smoked tofu, sliced plums, green leaves, coriander and a simple dressing of sesame oil, lemon juice, pepper and a dash of tamari. As with all my recipes, you can adapt to your taste - try and make it with grains, fresh mozzarella, basil and EVO for an Italian version! 

One of my other favourite plum recipes is my Apple, Pear and Plum Crumble from Body Cycles -  on these first nights of Autumnal chill, it is difficult to beat a good, old-fashioned crumble! This one is full of seasonal fruit. I love the contrast of the hot crumble with cold cream that softens all the flavours into a comforting end to a meal – not an everyday or even every week dessert but very satisfying!!

Next week: BLACKBERRIES