February: Leeks


10_vegetables-_leeksLike onions and garlic, leeks are members of the allium family, but have a much more subtle flavour. Nutritionally, leeks are often overlooked but there’s no good reason why they should be and a lot why they shouldn’t! The white part of the vegetable is the part usually eaten with the green sections (leaves) usually discarded. Soil is easily trapped within the leaf coils, and so they do require a good wash before preparing for cooking. This can be done by either slicing the leeks and then washing, or scoring a slit down the shaft of the leek to the white part and rinsing layer by layer under a running tap.


Key facts:

· Only 31kcal per 100kg

· Very good source of vitamin A and vitamin K

· High in protein quality.

· Good source of vitamin B6, folate and vitamin C

· Good source of iron, magnesium and manganese

Health Benefits

The allium family also belong to a category of foods known as fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), which have known prebiotic properties. Prebiotics are the preferred food of the beneficial bacteria that reside in our gut and leeks are a rich source of fructans, a type of FOS.


Many fruits and vegetables contain unique compounds called “polyphenols” that are showing to have strong antioxidant properties. In leeks , this particular compound has not been well researched, but it is believed that it may have strong anti-atherogenic properties which means that leeks may help protect against heart disease.

Leek Recipe

Most people think of leek and potato soup when considering recipes, but leeks can be used in stews, pies and tarts but here is a healthier option, marrying it up with a great oily fish: mackerel!

Leek and mackerel penne bake (serves 2)


2 leeks, trimmed washed and sliced

1 tbsp olive oil

175g penne

200ml low fat crème fraiche

1 tbsp capers

2 small mackerel fillets, skinned and flaked into large chunks

25g breadcrumbs


1. Fry the leeks in the oil until soft; boil the pasta.

2. When leeks are soft, stir in the crème fraiche, capers and fish and heat for about a minute.

3. Drain the pasta and stir into the sauce, then tip into a baking dish and coat with the breadcrumbs

4. Grill until golden and crisp

Nutritional value per portion:


47g carbohydrate

20g protein

35g fat (14g saturated fat)

>100% omega-3 requirements

High in vitamins A, B3, B12, & E

High in minerals Selenium, phosphorus