Even the most exotic veggies are available year-round in most areas…but when it comes to healthy eating and really enjoying your food, fresh is always better, and that means buying seasonally and buying locally.
Spring is the best time of the year to start the habit of buying seasonally and locally. Check those labels at your neighborhood market; haunt the best farmers’ markets near your home and you’ll find a whole new world waiting, with vegetables that are great for your body and great for your dental health.
Here are just a few examples of what spring has to offer:
Rainbow chard is wonderfully colorful and packed with Vitamins C and K, iron, and potassium. It’s a beautiful addition to any stir-fry; it can make your springtime soups (cold and hot) just sing. It’s even a great topping for pizza. Basically, you can use it anywhere you’d use spinach for a little extra kick.
Arugula is suffering from being “trendy,” but the reality is it’s a pretty great vegetable. Half a cup of fresh arugula has 2 calories – yes, two – as well as a healthy amount of folate and Vitamins A, C, and K. It also brings you an abundance of lutein, an antioxidant that’s great for your skin, eyes, and heart health. So don’t give in to anti-fads. Enjoy it in salads, soups, stir-fries, and pizza. (Here’s a hint: if the flavor’s a little strong for you, try the smaller, younger leaves. They tend to have a milder flavor).
Fresh cilantro packs a punch that starts to fade even after one week, so it’s the perfect item to pick up a little at a time as often as possible. You know where to use it: salsa, guacamole, even on rise or in pasta salads. Store cilantro stem-side down in water (and change the water daily!), or wrap what you didn’t use in a paper towel and put it in a resealable bag in the fridge, but be sure to use what you within a few days. Then it’s time for more!
Fresh rhubarb is in season for a very short time in the spring, and it’s wonderfully tart taste can’t be imitated. If you’re someone who makes jams or jellies or pies, now’s the time (or the time to start!). You might even want to try putting together your first chutney. One word of warning: rhubarb leaves are high in oxalic acid, and that’s toxic … so stick to the stalks. The leaves shouldn’t be eaten.
These are the perfect farmers’ market item; in fact, you won’t find them in most ‘regular’ markets. But search out the lovely green coils of the pea plant, and add them (immediately!) to salads, soups, or pasta. Their bright fresh flavor will transform the simplest dish.