written by Grace Dickinson, Temple University
Celebrate Spring with these healthy, seasonal eats
Spring brings blooming flowers and sweet-smelling fragrances. The season embraces extended sunny hours and warm evenings predestined for spending outside. And best of all, it brings veggies. Veggies that are dying to spring up from the ground into the surrounding warm air, waiting to be picked and placed on your plate.
The arrival of warm weather means fresh vegetables are alas within reach. And when you can finally get your hands on vegetables that needn’t be shipped from across the country, you can also guarantee you’re getting a healthier product.
Purchasing local food means less time goes by from farm to fork, which allows for optimal nutrition to be maintained. For instance, a study done by Penn State showed that spinach packaged and stored at proper temperatures declines in nutrient value within seven to 10 days from harvest. Spinach you can buy at your local farmer’s markets is usually picked no more than a day prior to the market, meaning more vitamin A for you.
So celebrate this spring by checking out its seasonal veggie offerings, all of which can typically be picked up at a local farmer’s market, or maybe even a neighbor’s garden (or your own). Below are three star vegetables you can guarantee you’ll see this spring.
In season: Mid-April through mid-July
Choose: Bright green, firm stalks, with tightly bound heads. Avoid wrinkly stalks with soft, moist heads.
Quick cooking: Preheat oven to 400F. Toss asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper, and any other desired seasonings, such as garlic or lemon. Roast until tender but still crisp, about 25 minutes.
Nutrition 411: About 30 calories per cup, 3 grams of fiber, 30% DV of vitamin A, 70% DV of vitamin C, 15% DV of iron, 61% DV of folate (an anti-inflammatory enhancer), 11% DV of vitamin E and an assortment of other vitamins.
Fun Fact: Asparagus causes some people’s pee to turn smelly but not everyone. Asparagus contains a sulfur compound called mercaptan. Those who carry the gene to break down mercaptan during the digestive process will smell it in their pee.
In season: Late March through early-July
Choose: Uniformly shaped and colored radishes with firm bulbs and green, non-wilted, healthy-looking tops
Quick cooking: Thinly slice radishes and layer on top of buttered brown bread. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Nutrition 411: ExExceptionally low in calories with just 20 cals per cup, 30% DV of vitamin C, excellent source of potassium, and comprise a variety of B vitamins and trace minerals
Fun Fact: Radishes grow fast, and are named for the Greek translation of “fast-appearing.”
In season: May through July
Choose: Look for firm pods with a bright green color. Avoid soft, yellowish pods.
Quick cooking: Cook peas with onions, chicken or vegetable broth, salt and pepper, and a dab of butter. Puree into a delicious, creamy soup.
Nutrition 411: An excellent source of fiber, containing about 6 grams per cup. Also contain nearly 8 grams of protein, 30% DV of vitamin A, 25% DV of vitamin C, and 6% DV of iron per cup
Fun Fact: Only 5% of green peas are eaten fresh per year. The rest of harvest is frozen and canned for enjoyment when those cold weather months roll back around.