With St David’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to celebrate the humble leek! Here are just a few reasons to include this versatile vegetable on your shopping list.
Protects Blood Vessels: Leeks contain a flavonoid called kaempherol which protects the lining of blood vessels and stimulates the production of nitric oxide. This allows blood vessels to dilate, rest and relax, reducing the risk of high blood pressure.
Detoxifies Your Skin: Leeks are a natural diuretic and help detoxify your skin by trapping harmful substances and flushing them out of your body. This cleansing action helps your skin appear radiant.
Protection from Sun Damage: Remember to eat the green part of leeks too! The leaves contain 100 times more beta-carotene and twice as much vitamin C as in the white parts. Beta carotene can be converted to vitamin A in the body. This, combined with vitamins C and E as well as the other powerful antioxidants found in leeks, can help protect skin against the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.
Gut Health: As a prebiotic, leeks provide food for our friendly gut bacteria helping to promote a healthy gut. They also aid digestion, stimulating and strengthening the stomach, kidneys and gut.
Leek and Amaranth Cheesy flapjacks
75g amaranth seeds
75g butter 1 leek, washed, cut in half and finely sliced
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
a pinch of chilli powder (optional, to taste)
175g jumbo oats
200g mature cheddar, grated
Heat the oven to 180C/ fan 160C and line a shallow 22 x 30cm baking tin with baking paper. Take a large deep frying pan with a lid, place on a high heat and leave for a few mins to get really hot. Sprinkle just a few seeds of amaranth into the pan and cover with the lid – they should pop in just 2-3 secs. If it takes any longer they will burn before they burst, so leave the pan to heat a little longer. Once the pan is hot enough, add a heaped tablespoon of the amaranth and cover. Shake the pan back and forth to swirl the seeds about as they pop and after a few seconds tip them into a bowl. Repeat until you have puffed all the amaranth. Wipe out the pan then add the butter, leek and rosemary, seasoning with a little salt and pepper, and chilli powder, if using. Put back over a low heat and let the leek soften for 5 mins. Turn off the heat and stir through the popped amaranth, oats, cheese and eggs and mix together thoroughly. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and press firmly down with the back of a spoon. Bake in the oven for 25 mins until deep golden brown. Carefully lift the flapjack out of the tin – holding onto the baking paper – onto a chopping board. Cut into 16 pieces and allow to cool. Rebecca Tucker is a Registered Nutritional Therapist practising at The Natural Healthcare Centre in Burton. For more information visit www.nourishbalanceglow.com