Laurann O’Reilly: The benefits of seasonal feeding and how do we do it?

The seasons change throughout the year, as do the fresh produce we find on our supermarket shelves, in grocery stores and in farmers’ markets.

But did you know that there are benefits to eating with the seasons?

Here nutritionist Laurann O’Reilly and owner of Nutrition by Laurann walks us through what seasonal eating is, the benefits, and how we can integrate it into our daily lives.

– What is seasonal food?

Eating in season is essentially buying, cooking and eating produce at a time of year when it is naturally ready for harvest or eating “in season” fruits and vegetables at their peak of freshness and flavor. specific time of year (Ballymaloe Foods).

– Seasonal Feeding in Ireland: All fruits and vegetables require certain temperatures, soil conditions and sunlight to achieve optimum growth and quality.

As the environment changes throughout the year and seasons, the fruits and vegetables we grow change with it.
In Ireland our mild and humid climate means that we have a long growing season for many vegetables.

This allows the “hardiest” vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower and beets to stay in season all year round.
While many Irish berries and fruits are only available for a few months in the summer (

– What are the advantages of a seasonal diet?

Health benefits

1) Seasonal nutritional adaptations: our nutritional needs change with the seasons and, traditionally, our diet would adapt to the season, with “lighter foods in spring and summer and more hearty and comforting foods in winter” ( Ballymaloe Foods).

The availability of imported fruits and vegetables has led to a reduction in this seasonal diet.

2) Nutritional content: Foods have the highest nutritional content at maximum maturity.
When food is grown in season, it is more nutritious because it is adapted to the region, grown in the ground and harvested at its peak. If grown and delivered to the supermarket in the same season, it will provide the maximum amount of nutrients the product has to offer.

3) Greater Nutritional Variety: In a previous post I talked about eating the rainbow, the same goes for seasonal foods. Instead of eating the same small group of fruits and vegetables all year round, a seasonal diet encourages a varied diet.
By branching out from your favorite types of fresh produce, you’ll get important vitamins and minerals that you might not usually get.

4) Food Quality: Seasonal foods tend to have more flavor than foods grown out of season and can often be fresher.
Indeed, the growing conditions of the products are optimal, which guarantees quality products. Foods grown out of season are harvested early, so they can travel long distances and may often require the use of artificial ripening agents to prepare them on store shelves.

Environmental benefits
We have recently seen huge discussions about the importance of protecting our environment and seasonal food can play a role in this as well.

5) It reduces food miles: Foods that have traveled around the world to reach your plate have a much greater impact on our environment.
It takes more energy to transport, refrigerate and store it and often more packaging is needed to keep it fresh.
By buying and eating local and seasonal foods, you can help reduce the environmental costs associated with your diet.

6) It prevents food waste: the more time food spends in storage and transit, the more likely it is to spoil and become waste. More than half of all food waste occurs along the supply chain.
Buying locally and in season can help reduce the risk of food turning into waste before it hits the shelves (

Benefits for the local community
7) It supports local businesses and farmers: When you buy locally produced food, the money you spend stays in Ireland to support our farmers, farmers markets, vegetable shops and the wider community.
– How do we know which foods are seasonal?
Here is a great seasonal calendar from and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Seasonal foods for December:

Here is a list of our seasonal foods for this month with our thanks to
– Vegetables: Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Kale, Leeks, Mushrooms, Parsnips, Potatoes, Lettuce and Turnips
– Fruits: Imported Apple or Banana and Clementine
– Herbs: Mint, Parsley and Thyme

– How do we integrate a seasonal diet in our meals?

– Add an extra fruit / vegetable to every meal: my motto is “every meal is an opportunity to nourish oneself” and, as part of this, Bord Bia has launched a “Best In Season” campaign, which encourages people to add an additional fruit. or a vegetable at each meal. is to “encourage consumers to choose fresh local and seasonal products”.

As many of us struggle to reach our 5 fruits and vegetables per day, it benefits not only us but our local farmers as well.

Grow Your Own: Why not try growing your own vegetables and you’ll always have fresh, in-season foods.
You might think that you need a large garden, a greenhouse, or some fancy equipment, but you might be surprised as to why you can grow with a balcony or a windowsill and a little of Sun.

Ballymaloe Foods suggests that “Growing herbs on the windowsill is a great way for beginners to start growing their own food, chives, parsley, dill, fennel, and mint work well and are very demanding. low maintenance.
You will find that once these tasty ingredients are within reach of your preparation area, you will add them to your dishes ”.

Try new recipes

There are so many amazing recipes that can incorporate some of the seasonal foods listed above or into the seasonal calendar.

Here are two to get you started:

Season 1 recipe
Breakfast cookies with apples and oats
Not only is this a great way to incorporate nutritious, seasonal apples, but it’s also a convenient and nutritious recipe for those on the go in the morning.

1 cup (100 g) quick-cooking oatmeal
¾ cup (90g) whole wheat flour
1 ½ teaspoon of baking powder
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
teaspoon ground nutmeg
little spoon of salt
1 ½ tablespoons (21g) unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
¼ cup (60 mL) maple syrup
5 c. (75 mL) low fat milk
¾ cup (94 g) Granny Smith apple, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 170 ° Celciu and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the oatmeal, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt
In another bowl, whisk together the butter or coconut oil, egg white and vanilla.
Stir in the maple syrup, milk and add the flour mixture
Stir until all the ingredients are combined and incorporate the apple
Cool the cookie dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Using a spoon and spatula, place the cookie dough in 15 rounded balls on the prepared sheet, and flatten to the desired thickness and width using a spatula
10-12 minutes or until cookies are golden
Let cool 10 minutes on the dish and serve

Seasonal recipe 2
Roasted Root Vegetable Soup
A great recipe for combining seasonal vegetables like turnips, carrots and celery. Combined with fresh ginger, this is a hot and hearty soup full of texture and flavor.

2 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium turnip, or parsnip, rutabaga, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small yellow onion, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 stalk of celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 piece of fresh ginger root, sliced ​​¼ “
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, optional
720 ml Vegetable broth
2 large Roma tomatoes, halved
3 cups kale, hulled, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons of fresh / dried cilantro
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Preheat the oven to 200 ° C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil
In a large bowl, combine the carrot, turnip, onion, celery, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, oil and toss to combine
Distribute the prepared vegetables evenly on the lined baking sheet and roast for 20 to 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and cool slightly (reserve 1 full cup for later use)
Add the remaining vegetables to a blender along with the tomatoes, vegetable broth and half the can of chickpeas and mix until you get a smooth, chicky consistency.
To the mixture in the blender, add the kale, cilantro, chickpeas and remaining vegetables and mix until the ingredients are lightly chopped and incorporated.
Transfer to a saucepan to heat and serve with wholemeal bread.

About Laurann: Laurann O’Reilly is a qualified and experienced nutritionist with a BSc. Diploma in Human Nutrition from the University of Nottingham and Masters in Public Health Nutrition from University College Dublin.

She has over 10 years of experience in community work and clinical care, research, personalized nutritional counseling (regarding healthy eating, weight loss, digestive health and sports nutrition), teaching and the development of nutrition courses at FETEC level, conferences and nutritional education workshops (well-being in companies, schools, sports teams, public and private conferences), former director of food for the Celiac Society of Ireland and is part of the deployment team of the Healthy Ireland Smart Start health promotion program for preschools

For more information see or contact Laurann at [email protected]

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