Spring is the season of growth and is flourishing with fresh fruits and veggies. This is a great way to cleanse our systems after months of heavy winter foods and stews. What better way to align yourself with nature and its rhythms while keeping your body balanced and healthy than eating foods harvested in-season? Now is the time to enjoy tender, leafy greens, and fresh fruits bursting with color, and flavor! This means produce that is very dense in nutritional value when locally grown, and also easiest on the wallet because they are so plentiful! Most of these springtime foods help to strengthen the liver, detox the body, decrease risk of stroke and heart problems, protect against cancers, lower blood pressure, and give you energy for the longer, sunnier (and fun-ner!) days ahead!
Here is a list of some of our favorites for spring:
Collard, mustard, dandelion greens, spinach, watercress, arugula, Belgian endive, raddichio. These greens are high in chlorophyll and also pack in vitamin A, folic acid, complex B vitamins, and vitamin C, along with minerals and antioxidants. Mix and match these greens into an interesting spring salad, add pine nuts or pumpkin seeds, radishes, and top with and herb-mustard vinaigrette.
Rich in fiber, magnesium, good source of vitamin B complex and vitamin C. Look for artichokes with tight, compact leaves, ripe green color and fresh-cut stem ends. Try steaming in water with some lemon juice. Serve with a yogurt-based dip with chives, garlic, herbs and splash of lemon juice.
Contains an incredible 114% of recommended daily allowance of vitamin K per 1 cup serving! This is especially important for bone health. Also contains nearly 66% RDA of folate, which helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. Choose odorless, bright green stalks with dry, tight, clsed and compact tips.
The purple/crimson color comes from powerful anti-cancer fighting phytochemical called betacyanin. Great for strengthening the liver and detoxifying the body. Try roasting with garlic, then slice and pair for feta cheese for salads
Excellent source of vitamin A, which is important for eye health, and a good source of vitamin C. Also contains fiber and rich in iron, potassium, niacin, riboflavin, magnesium and phosphorus. Look for a tight coil and only an inch or two of stem beyond the coil. Choose small, firm, brightly colored ones with no signs of softness or yellowing. Keep well cooled and tightly wrapped to prevent drying out for up to three days. They are versatile and easy to use, have a mild taste similar to asparagus with an added nutty bite. They can be used similarly as asparagus or broccoli florets, such as a simple stir-fry.
Rich in iron, antioxidants, vitamin A, C and E. Aids in eye health, digestion, has anti-cancer properties, and is beneficial for those with anemia. Squeeze gently in the palm of the hand to determine ripeness. Store at room temperature for 1-2 days. Refridgerate peeled, cut mangoes
Packed with vitamins A, C, and folic acid. Sold in big tumbled masses, look for bright vines with fresh, vibrant leaves. Avoid vines with brown or mushy ends or damaged leaves. Taste best when simply sautéed with olive oil, garlic and shallots.
High in vitamin C and manganese, a mineral important for strong bones and connective tissue. Contain bromelain, a proteolytic enzyme that breaks down protein, which can help in digestion. Bromelain is also considered an effective anti-inflammatory and can help relieve painful joints common to osteoarthritis. It also has the ability to reduce mucus in the throat, so if have a cold with a productive cough, add some pineapple to your diet.
The leafy green portion is edible and contain high amounts of vitamin C, plus calcium. Chop up the roots and leaves to add nutrition, flavor and crunch to salads. Or steam the roots with carrots, and marinate them in an orange-flavored dressing.
Good source of fiber, moderate source of vitamin C and calcium. Studies have linked the fiber from rhubarb to reduced cholesterol levels. Select bright crisp stalks that aren’t curled or limp. Deep red stalks are sweeter and richer. The leaves should never be eaten.Wonderful in puddings, but its sharpness also works well with meat and oily fish dishes.
It’s that time of year where we are finding any reason to be outside in the fresh spring air. As our lunch breaks get longer, our meals become al fresco, and we find ourselves taking the “long” way home, here’s another great (and environmentally friendly) reason to be outside. Farmers Markets!! There are so many benefits to shopping at a farmers’ market in your neighborhood. There you have access to fresh & healthy food direct from the farmers and growers themselves. Shopping at a farmers’ market is good for you, your local farmers, and your community.
When shopping at farmers’ markets, you can safely assume that the food you are purchasing has not traveled a long distance (hence, local). You are doing your part in reducing the energy consumption needed to sustain large food systems. It’s not a secret that the food at the farmers’ markets are fresher and the tastes bolder, but did you know that they are in fact more nutritious as well? It’s true. The shorter the time between harvested food and consumption means more nutrients are preserved in our food. Another great reason to visit a farmers market near you!
Whether you live in the city or the suburbs, finding your local farmers market is as easy as an online search at Local Harvest or contacting your local chamber of commerce.
Since Spring has officially arrived, here’s a recipe forBraised Spring Vegetables, where you can buy the yummy ingredients locally!
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 bunch radishes, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 thyme sprigs (optional)
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1/4 cup white wine
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound), trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 bunch Swiss chard (preferably red), leaves torn into bite-size pieces, stems cut into 1-inch lengths
1/2 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shelled fresh or frozen peas (about 1 pound in the shell)
1 small head Boston lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1.Heat butter in a large skillet over high heat until sizzling. Add radishes and cook on one side until dappled golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn radishes and sear for 3 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl.
2. Add oil to pan and stir in onion, thyme if using, sugar and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden brown, about 10 minutes (reduce heat if it starts to burn). Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add scallions, cut-side down; cook until light golden, about 2 minutes. Pour in wine and boil, stirring, for 2 minutes.
3. Toss in asparagus, chard stems, sugar snap peas and broth. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 2 minutes. Toss in chard leaves, peas and lettuce; season with more salt and pepper. Cover and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in cheese. Serve with dumplings, polenta or noodles.