The change in weather has us excited for all things springtime and sunshine. Stock up on the fruits and veggies at their peak this spring to keep your tastebuds happy and immune system going strong.
Springtime is finally here with its promise of longer, sunshine-filled days and fragrant flowers in bloom. As if we needed any more reasons to love this most favorite of seasons, the fruits and vegetables of spring are infused with vibrant colors and are not only bursting with flavor, they are also teeming with good-for-you nutrients.
What is in season right now?
Asparagus. This spring vegetable comes in familiar bright green hues, but you can also find white and purple varieties as well. The crunchy spear is a chief supplier of folic acid, providing 22% of your recommended daily allowance in 4 medium spears. Folic acid is essential for growth and blood cell formation. [KV1] One serving also delivers 3g of fiber and potassium, vitamin B6, and thiamin. Asparagus comes in four sizes – small, standard, large, and jumbo – but however you enjoy it, make sure to choose fresh spears that are firm, straight, and smooth with a rich, deep color. Asparagus can be grilled, roasted, steamed, or stir-fried.
Pineapple. This tropical, juicy fruit has been a nutritional superstar within traditional folk medicine for centuries thanks to its mixture of enzymes called bromelain, a natural remedy used to tame inflammation, indigestion, sinusitis, and for improving circulation. One cup of chopped pineapple also provides 131% of your daily vitamin C and 76% of your daily manganese. Pineapple can be bought canned, sliced or chopped fresh, or intact in its natural plant state. The tastiest pineapples have green leaves that are easy to remove and are plump and heavy with strong sweet pineapple aromas.
Mushrooms. The most common edible members of this fungi family are the button, cremini, portabella, and shiitake. Mushrooms are not only prized for their delicious umami-rich flavor and knack for being a chewy stand-in for meat, but they are also a top disease-preventing immunity booster, providing 12 mcg of the antioxidant selenium in a 100g serving. Mushrooms are also good sources of riboflavin, niacin, and potassium, and are just one of a few plant sources of vitamin D due to their exposure to UV-light. Mushrooms can be sliced raw into dishes, roasted, sauteed, or blended into creamy soups. Select mushrooms that are firm and dry with a smooth appearance.
Strawberries. Arguably the world’s most favorite berry, these versatile red, sweet gems are enjoyed as a base for smoothies, sliced fresh into salads, cooked down to a jam, or simply eaten as is. Like all berries, strawberries are loaded with potent antioxidants shown to prevent chronic disease and reduce cardiovascular risk by lowering total cholesterol. Eight strawberries fulfill your whole vitamin C requirement for the day and will also deliver potassium, folate, and manganese. Pick strawberries that are plump and bright red in color with fresh green leaves with no signs of mold or bruising.
Apricots. Sweetly tart in flavor, these delicate fruits are a smart way to add important vitamins and springtime flavor to your dishes. Apricots are eaten year-round as a dried fruit snack or as a jam, but apricots can be enjoyed fresh simply sliced or eaten whole. Apricots may play a vital role in protecting eye health as they are a great source of beta carotene and vitamins C, E, and A. Beta carotene and vitamin A are antioxidants that are shown to be especially effective at lowering the risk for cataracts. Perfectly ripe apricots have a deep orange-gold hue rather than pale yellow or orange and are plump and firm but just soft to the touch.
Garlic Roasted Mushrooms and Asparagus
½ lb fresh white button or cremini mushrooms
1 bunch fresh asparagus, bottoms trimmed
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried rosemary or 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
2 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1) Preheat the oven to 450F. Lay a piece of parchment paper down onto a baking sheet.
2) Place mushrooms, asparagus, and garlic into a bowl, and drizzle with olive oil. Season with rosemary, salt, and pepper and toss until combined.
3) Lay the vegetables down onto the baking sheet in a single layer.
4) Roast in the oven about 15 minutes, until the asparagus is tender.
Fresh Apricot Crisp
12 large apricots, pitted and cut into bite-sized cubes
¾ cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
¾ cup white whole wheat flour
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
½ cup applesauce
¾ cup chopped walnuts
1) Preheat the oven to 350F.
2) First prepare the filling. Mix sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Add chopped apricots to the bowl and stir to combine. Transfer mixture to a 9x13 or 11x7 glass baking dish.
3) Next prepare the topping. Mix the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, and salt into a bowl. Add applesauce and mix well until the mixture forms small clumps. Stir in the walnuts.
4) Sprinkle topping over the filling, and place into the oven.
5) Bake for 1 hour until the topping is crisp. Let cool for at least 20 minutes.
Tropical Pineapple, Strawberry, and Mango Smoothie
5 frozen strawberries
1 frozen mango, with skin removed and diced
1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
1 cup orange juice
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until fully combined. Pour and enjoy!