The 15 mile foodie takes a big step with watercress

The 15 mile foodie takes a big step with watercress

Rachael is an ex-teacher who decided to set up her blog, The 15 mile foodie, when she moved to Christchurch just on the borders of Dorset.  She discovered what a rich and diverse variety of local food and drink producers were within easy reach – in fact within a 15 mile radius!    The Watercress Company, with its headquarters in Dorset was one, so when the opportunity to become a watercress ambassador arose, she jumped at the chance.  Here is the first installment of her exploration into the world of watercress and the delicious recipes she’s tried using it.

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Week 1 Day 1

Since starting this journey I am pleased to say my love of watercress has only increased.

My favourite recipe so far has to be the juice master's (Jason Vale) ultimate health booster smoothie having started juicing earlier in the year I was keen to see how I could incorporate watercress into this regime, there seems to be plenty of advocates shouting about using spinach/kale but this green also packs a punch when it comes to its nutrient density.

I know from my juicing detox last winter that I don't drink anywhere near enough water so blitzing all these healthy raw fruit and veg has got to have a positive impact on my health. 

Try this

 Ingredients

1 inch slice pineapple

1 apple

1 inch chunk broccoli

1 small handful of spinach

1/2 stick of celery

1/4 inch piece of ginger

1 handful of watercress

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As a menopausal woman (I know, I don't look old enough) I have found that my skin feels dry and crepey, so learning that watercress can reduce skin ageing was also a benefit to eating this peppery green, apparently it suppresses the breakdown of Collagen and Elastin and also increases the production of Collagen. All good to stave off the wrinkles. I'll keep you posted on the results in due course.

5 more reasons why watercress helps with the menopause

  1. Aids bloating - menopausal women can experience frequent bloating as a result of changing hormone levels. The bloating is caused by fluid retention and gas. Because watercress is a natural diuretic, it helps decrease the fluid retention. Vitamin B1 which is found in watercress is also beneficial to digestion

  2. Lessens mood swings - many women during the menopause transition report increased irritability and mood swings. Certain foods can help to stabilise moods, including watercress which can also help improve mental well-being. Green vegetables such as watercress, spinach and peas are high in folic acid, a member of the B-complex group, which is needed to make serotonin which helps stabilise moods

  3. Helps protect against osteoporosis - to help maintain bone strength and prevent osteoporosis, menopausal women should increase their intake of two nutrients: calcium and vitamin D. Gram for gram watercress contains more calcium than milk and so is a fantastic way to add more in the diet. Adequate vitamin K consumption also improves bone health - watercress contains remarkably high levels of this vitamin too

  4. Helps balance oestrogen levels - compounds in cruciferous veg such as watercress, together with high levels of vitamin B6 and magnesium help to maintain a healthy oestrogen balance. Maintaining oestrogen levels may help to lessen the loss of sexual libido and vaginal dryness

  5. May help against memory loss - watercress contains high levels of folate which may act as a preventive against cognitive decline. Results of a study of males aged between 50-70 years showed that participants given 800 mcg of folate daily demonstrated a beneficial effect on cognition and verbal fluency. In addition a high concentration of vitamin C may play a role in neuron building activity and gram for gram watercress contains more Vitamin C than oranges. So, there you have it - eat watercress and you may not forget so much!

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Try this Egg & Puy Lentil Salad with Tamari and Watercress as the ultimate meal for menopause

Day 2

The next recipe I tried was a cleansing watercress and citrus salad with a turmeric dressing all full of anti-oxidants so energising and cleansing at the same time. I did cheat and add some cooked chicken but it really wasn't necessary it is absolutely delicious without.

Try this

 Ingredients

1 orange - zested

2 ounces of watercress  (I probably used a lot more)

1 ripe avocado

a few slices of thinly sliced red onion

 Dressing

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp lime juice

1 tbsp orange zest

2 tsp honey

1 tsp grated turmeric

salt to taste

pepper to taste

Raw ways to eat Watercress that have become firm favourites in our house are with steak and potatoes and tomatoes or in a bacon sandwich with a generous topping of the wasabi mayonnaise.

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My absolute favourite recipe for watercress apart from the smoothie is watercress and pea soup, its so deliciously green you just know its doing you good. With the weather getting a bit more Autumnal we naturally turn to a hot soup to warm us up, but honestly I've have even been eating mine cold, maybe that’s weird?

Here is the recipe I've been following

 Ingredients

 2tbsp Olive Oil

1 Large Onion

1 Garlic clove

1 large floury potato, cubed

1.5 litres of chicken stock

900g frozen peas

100g watercress

70g finely sliced pancetta

Method

Heat the oil and butter in a large pan, add the onion and garlic and cook gently for 5 minutes, until it begins to soften. Add the potato and toss with the onion and garlic, then pour in the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes, until the potato is tender.

Add the frozen peas and simmer for 3 minutes.  Add the watercress and stir in until wilted. Remove from the heat, cool for a few minutes then blend with a hand held blender, until smooth.

Meanwhile grill the pancetta until crisp. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Then break up into pieces.

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with the pancetta pieces.

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By the way, last week @lovewatercress sent me a hair conditioning mask made by Lush, as I was going to an interview on Monday I thought I would give it a try - my goodness it definitely sorts out those frizzy ends and made my hair smell incredible. Lush is another local company and the ingredients list reads like something off a menu! Obviously it includes watercress!

Read here about when Lush visited The Watercress Company to get their watercress supplies for their product.

You can follow Rachel’s foodie journey at her website the15milefoodie or on social media, on Facebook its @the15milefoodie and Twitter @pitman_rachael

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