A Dietitian’s Favorite Spring Fruits & Veggies

spring

These days, it may seem that you can get any produce at any time of the year—grapes from Chile in December, strawberries from Florida in February, tomatoes grown year-round in hot houses. Eating seasonally, though, can help you eat local foods, reduce your carbon footprint, save money and the biggest bonus of all—fresh food is more nutritious and tastes better! Produce starts to lose nutrients and flavor after picking so the sooner it is eaten, the more nutritious and tasty, plus when produce travels long distances there is the chance of quality degradation and spoilage.

Growing seasons vary region to region throughout the world and if you live in a cold winter climate you may still want to opt for some tropical fruits and warmer climate veggies, but eating mostly in season is good for you and good for the planet.

Spring is a great time to boost your seasonal eating! My personal goal is to choose what is in season at my local farmers market and supplement with a few tropical items that I can’t do without. Here are my top 9 Spring fruits and veggies:

  1. Cauliflower is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, antioxidants and folate. Cauliflower recipes these days are plentiful, and gluten-free cauliflower pizza is a tasty way to use cauliflower. You can also very simply roast a whole head of cauliflower – just wrap it up in foil with lots of garlic and drizzle with your favorite oil and salt and pepper.
  1. Scallions and green onions are a fresh change from the onions I have been using all fall and winter. Scallions have the same anti-oxidants as garlic and the rest of the allium family, they’re good for your heart, blood pressure and they also contain vitamins A,C, and K. These Korean green onion pancakes showcase green onions nicely.
  1. Artichokes are a good source of iron, potassium, folate vitamin C, fiber and magnesium. Never cooked fresh artichokes before? I love eating roasted artichokes as a healthy snack instead of chips or popcorn – just stuff a bunch of garlic in between the leaves, drizzle with oil, salt and pepper, wrap in 2 layers of foil, and roast at 425 degrees for about 1 hour!
  1. Asparagus, whether white, purple or green, are a good source of Iron, B vitamins, vitamins C and K as well as a prebiotic that feeds your healthy gut bacteria. Check out the Food Lab for shopping and cooking tips and try this recipe for Asparagus Artichoke Mushroom Saute.
  1. Snap peas and snow peas. Snap peas are high in vitamins C and K, snow peas feature vitamin c, iron and manganese. To get a nutrient wallop from 2 kinds of peas try fresh green peas and snap peas in sesame dressing.
  1. Rainier cherries from the northwest are my favorite kind. Cherries have great anti-inflammatory nutrients from anthocyanin, an antioxidant found in red and purple produce. Both Bing and Rainier cherries start their harvest season in May!
  1. Strawberries are at their peak in April. Just 1 cup of these delicious berries meets 100% of your daily Vitamin C needs. I love this Strawberry basil macademia nut salad from Reboot with Joe.
  1. Apricots are a late spring harvest fruit that contain beta-carotene, vitamin C and potassium.
  1. Herbs. Spring brings a burst of flavors with herbs like parsley, mint, tarragon, cilantro, and chives. Garlic scapes, the stalks that grow from garlic bulbs, come into season in late Spring / early Summer. You can eat them raw or cooked, and use them just as you would garlic, but a milder sweeter version.

MORE ON VEGGIES

Veggies like fennel, beets, kohlrabi, cauliflower and broccoli thrive in the colder temperatures of Fall and mature in early Spring. Spring is also the perfect time to up your salad intake! Spring greens like butter lettuce, red lettuce, watercress, arugula (aka rocket) and radicchio add a mix of flavors to my salad bowl. Leafy greens like these, as well as spinach, chard, and kale tend to bolt, or flower, and become bitter after spring when the weather gets too hot.

Quick-growing veggies like radishes and rhubarb are ready to pick in the Spring. Fabulous, fun watermelon radishes, aka heirloom Chinese Daikon radishes, resemble a watermelon when sliced. They are used in this Green Goddess salad created by Heather Cristo along with other spring veggies like pea shoots, green onions, peas, and parsley.

MORE ON FRUITS

In warmer climates such as in Florida, Arizona, Texas and Southern California, citrus – grapefruits, oranges, lemons – as well as kiwifruit, mangoes, strawberries and kumquats, grow all Winter so are available through Spring. They are all high in vitamin C and in addition, mangoes are high in vitamin A and kiwifruit in vitamin E and potassium.

–Lea

 

 

 

 

 

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