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Making Carbs Count: Watercress

Perfectly Pickable FINAL image with marker 300dpiGrowing in British streams and now widely available in supermarkets, this peppery green leaf is the focus of Steve Rothwell’s business venture.

Rothwell began his PhD in the nutritional physiology of watercress in 1980 after deciding that studying the genetics of sphagnum moss wasn’t for him. The course was part funded by the watercress industry and it wasn’t long before he met the owner of Hampshire Watercress (later renamed Vitacress), Malcolm Isaac. After completing his PhD, Steve took a job with them on a two-year contract, but thirty years later, he’s still there.

For centuries the nutritional power-house that is watercress has been recognized, long before blueberries, cranberries and broccoli stole the show.  This year, even though the rain has been unwelcomed by most of us, watercress has been lapping up the damp weather on the Steve’s Leaves’ farm in Hampshire.

Steve’s Leaves are picked earlier than normal bunched watercress, so the leaves are peppery and the stalks are tender not tough, so the whole little sprig can be eaten without waste. Steve and his team have developed a revolutionary chiller that rapidly cools the leaves within 60 minutes of them being harvested, keeping them deliciously fresh and tasty. 

Steves leaves crop trials

A true super food, with years of research to back up its claims, watercress is a good source of vitamins A and C, antioxidants, iron, calcium, folic acid and phytochemicals which in turn are essential for shiny hair, strong bones, clear skin, and a healthy immune system.

“Stuffing watercress between two slices of buttered bread is the simplest way of adding an impressive list of vitamins and minerals to your lunch box,” explains Dr Steve Rothwell (the Steve in Steve’s Leaves, pictured right).  “Adding a handful of leaves to a salad is another boost and a bowl of watercress soup is much more satisfying than a vitamin tablet. It’s no surprise that watercress is one of the oldest known leaf vegetables to be consumed by humans, so our forebears certainly knew what was naturally good for them to eat.”

The Steve’s Leaves range is available from selected Waitrose, online at Ocado and all good foodie outlets. www.stevesleaves.co.uk

WATERCRESS PESTO RECIPE

For a zero-carb treat (excluding any bread used), mash together a washedSteve's Leaves PESTO bunch of watercress leaves, a handful of pine nuts and a clove of garlic with a few slugs of olive oil, some lemon juice and a small handful of parmesan Serve on toasted bread.

 
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