This time of year is perfect for long country walks in the Aude valley. There is so much beauty to behold everywhere you look! While out hiking in the glorious autumn sunshine the other day, we stumbled across three delicious, vitamin rich, wild super foods. Here's some of the scrumptious treats we found, foraged and consumed on our edible adventures...
Blackberries, are one of nature's most tasty and easily accessible wild super fruits. Like most berries, blackberries are high in nutrients, making them a powerful health food.
For example, per half cup, blackberries have 37 calories, 9g of carbohydrate and 4g of fibre. And other nutrients in blackberries include vitamins A, C, and K, magnesium, potassium, and fibre. Vitamin A helps maintain eye health while vitamin C promotes wound healing, keeps gums healthy and helps the body absorb iron. Vitamin K, along with magnesium, are important in promoting bone health. Potassium plays a role in health blood pressure levels. And fibre helps control cholesterol and keeps you regular.
The best part of blackberry picking is scoffing as many as possible as you go! And luckily these delicious fruits are so low in calories and high in fibre that you just cannot eat too many of them. Foods high in fibre help you feel full, because they absorb water, and diets high in fibre may help decrease your blood cholesterol levels too. The fibre in blackberries helps aid digestion and may also help fight cardiovascular disease. One cup of blackberries provides almost 8 grams of fibre, which is 21 to 32 percent of the daily fibre recommendations for men and and women, respectively. The vitamin A in blackberries also supports your digestive tract by helping maintain healthy mucous membranes, such as the tissues that line the inside of your mouth. They truly are a super foraging fruit!
There are so many delicious recipes you can include blackberries in, including: smoothies, cakes, crumbles, jams, and much more. (Recipes for all of which can be easily found online). Here at The Lounge we like to add blackberries to our raw vegan apple crumbles and fresh fruit smoothies. (Recipes on their way in our pending cookbook).
2. Rose hips
This brightly coloured, beautiful super fruit is the best natural source of vitamin C! Rose hips contain 50% more vitamin C than oranges. In fact, a single tablespoon of rose hip pulp gives an adult more than their recommended daily allowance of 60 mg of vitamin C. These magnificent forrest fruits can be eaten raw, after being put through a blender, or soaked in water overnight and then cooked in the water for about half an hour. Because of their high vitamin C content rose hips are an excellent immune system booster, and are often used as a supplement to prevent or treat a cold.
Because rose hips are so nutrient rich they have been used for centuries as a powerful healing agent. The fruit is particularly effective in treatments of skin irritation, due to its high vitamin C content. You can create a rose hip compress by adding 4 Tbsp of cut rose hips (minus the seeds) to a small pot of boiling water, and letting them simmer gently for at least 10 minutes. Then simply soak a cotton rag in this liquid and apply directly onto affected skin. You can also soak your rose hips directly in a carrier oil such as almond or olive oil for four weeks to make a soothing oil for the face.
Popular and easy rose hip recipe ideas include: rose hip jelly, syrup and tea. (Recipes for all of which can be easily found online). Here at The Lounge we enjoy using these gorgeous fruits the old fashion way, for simple tea infusions, by soaking them in warm (not boiling) water.
3. Beech Nuts
Another glorious forest foraging item is the spectacularly understated beech nut. These small, three sided nuts are brown coloured with a protective prickly outer shell and, despite being small, are deeply delicious and satisfying to eat raw, or roasted over a campfire.
The beechnut is a fantastic source of protein, which makes up roughly 22% of its whole content. Some of the most important health benefits of beech include its ability to stimulate hair growth, protect the immune system, improve the health of the skin, boost newborn health, reduce respiratory distress, prevent infections, relieve pain, detoxify the kidneys, and protect against chronic diseases. The beech nut is a great source of vitamin B6, also known as folate or folic acid, and the high cellulose and fibre content is especially good for regulating digestion.
Furthermore, beech trees are extremely common throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. So next time you go walking in the forest keep your eyes peeled for these small but perfectly formed treats. Now is the perfect time for beech nuts as, helpfully, these utterly delicious nuts fall from the branches and can be harvested easily from the ground in Autumn. A low-maintenance forager's dream!
Foraging is yet another delightful attribute to living in the countryside. Down here, in the Southern-french Pyrenees mountains, we are blessed to have access to truly beautiful and unspoiled natural landscapes. However, you don’t need to have access to a rural setting like ours to enjoy foraging for yourself. You can go blackberry picking easily in most cities, as they grow abundantly in a wide variety of soil types. You can get creative within your urban jungle and embrace the challenge of foraging for fruits, nuts, greens and more. In fact, every food item included in this blog can also be found in and around cities. Foraging is fun, easy, and best of all - totally free! All it requires is a bit of childlike curiosity into your local surroundings and community and, most importantly of all, to keep your eyes open when you are walking from A to B.
So next time you’re popping out to your local corner shop why not keep a look out for any potential foraging treasures along the way too?
(Please do not consume anything found whilst foraging without identifying it with a reliable source as safe for consumption)