Renowned since ancient times, Watercress has it all. The Ancient Greeks believed it could improve their intelligence, the Romans ate it to prevent baldness, Hippocrates is believed to have chosen the site of his first hospital as it was close to a Watercress stream and the Egyptians gave Watercress juice to their slaves to improve productivity.
So what is about Watercress that’s so amazing. Often thought of as a member of the cress family Watercress is actually a separate plant, part of the Cruciferae family and is related to broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower etc (already acknowledged to have amazing health benefits).
What makes it so super?
Watercress contains more Vitamin C, B1, K and E, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese and Zinc than apples, broccoli or tomatoes. Watercress is high in beta-carotene, essential for healthy skin and eyes. Watercress also provides iodine (needed for thyroid health) and folic acid – important for pregnant women and the health of their baby. It is also a rich source of carotenoids that act as antioxidants helping the body to deal with free radicals, which can cause damage to the body, and many phytochemicals. Health benefits include improved bone strength, immune system function and prevents iron deficiency.
For centuries this amazing green has grown wild in streams and still does. British cultivation began in 1808 in Kent and continues to this day. Available in supermarkets all year round, the British Watercress season runs from March to November (although you can buy British Watercress all year round if you live near a Watercress farm), watch out for the British product in shops now.
It’s so easy to add Watercress to your daily routine:- include it in your sandwiches, pimp up your salads, make soup, add it to your smoothies or use it to add a zing to your meals.
Warm Watercress Potato Cakes with Hot Smoked Salmon
350g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
50g Watercress, chopped
4 spring onions chopped
2 tbspn olive oil or 2oz butter (according to preference)
Salt & ground black pepper
Cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain and mash the potatoes with the olive oil or butter, salt and pepper. Add the chopped the Watercress and spring onions, mix well.
Form the potato into a cake and brush with oil. Place into a preheated oven (200C/ Fan 180C / Gas Mark 6) and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Place the a potato cake onto your plate, top with the Salmon and some more Watercress (adapted from the Watercress cook book)
Looking for a different Smoothie – Blend half Spinach/half Watercress, a chunk of pineapple, coconut chunks and a dessert spoonful of Chia seeds with water for a beautiful green super-smoothie. For an extra protein boost add a spoonful of your favourite protein powder.
For more Watercress recipes and information visit http://watercress.co.uk/