Autumn and winter are around the corner with all the magic and mystery those seasons bring; the wonder of harvest, the magic of Halloween, the sparkle of Guy Fawkes and of course the joy of Christmas. But with them come colder days and a yearning for hearty, warming dishes. The Watercress Company has collaborated with Dorset Chef, Suze Morrison to come up with four indulgent recipes for one stop pots that are simply perfect for sharing on cosy evenings in.
Naturally, peppery, fiery watercress features in each, but it’s not just good for adding to the warmth of the dish, it’s also good for your health, helping to support the immune system, which is more important than ever at this time of year.
Watercress is one of the healthiest veg and contains over 50 vital vitamins and minerals. Gram for gram it contains more calcium than milk, more folate than a banana, more vitamin E than broccoli and crucially, for a healthy immune system, more Vitamin C than an orange. Unlike animals, we cannot produce our own Vitamin C, we therefore need to consume it in regularly sufficient amounts to ensure we get enough. We’re also unable to store Vitamin C, so consume any more than we need, and we excrete it. An 80g portion of watercress provides 83% of the Recommended Daily Amount.
Importantly for vegetarians and vegans, watercress is also high in Vitamin A and rich in iron. For plant iron to be absorbed, vitamins C and A are required to convert it into a more easily absorbable form such as haem iron as found in meat. Not all veg that contain iron have as high levels of Vitamins A and C as watercress, and so the iron is not as readily available in some green veg as in watercress.
The wonders continue; watercress is also a rich source of fibre and of crucial antioxidants, both vital for gut health, which in turn is linked to immunity and mental health. The distinctive peppery kick that makes watercress so special is down to the compound PEITC, which has been scientifically proven to help prevent certain cancers, and to aid post-exercise recovery by preventing DNA damage. Finally, unusually for a plant, watercress has a full complement of the nine essential amino acids our bodies need to help regulate the immune function and to build muscle. The best sources of essential amino acids are generally animal proteins like meat, eggs, and poultry – another reason why watercress is a must-have for vegans and vegetarians.