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Spring into Seasonal Produce

148074457_veggies in store

This spring, fill your refrigerator with some fresh produce standouts that mark this time of year. Buying seasonally is optimal to receive the richest nutritional benefit and highest quality products because there’s less transport time from farm to table. Here are some tips on what to look for this season.

Asparagus

  • These spring spears come in several colors: green, white and purple.
  • They are good sources of fiber, folate, potassium and vitamins A, C, E and K.
  • A half cup serving (or 5 spears) contains 2 grams of fiber and only 20 calories.
  • To properly store asparagus, wrap the stem ends in damp paper towels for several days. To further extend their freshness, refrigerate the stalks with the tips side up in a cup of shallow water.
  • Enjoy grilled, roasted or sautéed using a small amount of olive oil, or simply steam and then season with a dash of sea salt for a low-calorie side dish.

Peas

  • There are three types of peas: English (or green), snow (Chinese pea pods) and snap (or sugar snap) peas.
  • English peas, sometimes called sweet peas, can be eaten raw, but are often served cooked.
    • The pods need to be removed before eating, unlike their counterparts.
    • They are higher in protein and fiber with a 1/2 cup cooked containing 62 calories, 4.4 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein.
    • You can find them in frozen individual serving size containers for a convenient microwave side dish.
  • Snow peas are flat and contain very small peas inside, but the whole pod is edible.
    • They are a classic ingredient in stir-fry recipes.
  • Snap peas are a cross between snow peas and English peas and can be eaten whole in their pods.
    • You may need to remove the stringy seam before eating, but stringless varieties are also available.
    • This popular pea (and my personal favorite) is a delicious crunchy snack or steamed side dish.
    • Both snow and snap peas have a similar nutrient profile: one cup raw has 26 calories, 2.5 grams of fiber and 1.8 grams of protein.

Radishes

  • As a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, radishes are available year-round, but are smaller, sweeter and crunchier in spring.
  • They are one of the easiest and fastest vegetables to grow in your garden, which is perfect for novice or young budding gardeners!
  • One cup of sliced radishes has only 19 calories.
  • Proper storage is the key to retaining flavor and freshness of these little bulbs. They can last up to a month in the refrigerator!
    • Cut the tops off the radish and leave ½ inch of the stem attached to the top of the bulb.
    • Place them in a perforated plastic storage bag or open plastic bag to allow for air circulation.
  • Beyond serving crunchy radishes raw in salads or as a low-calorie snack, try incorporating them in stir-fry recipes, soups and stews.

Strawberries

  • These sweet-seeded berries are in their peak from April to June.
  • They are a nutrition powerhouse for vitamin C–exceeding 100 percent of our daily recommended needs.
  • Strawberries are also a good source of folic acid, potassium and fiber.
  • For only 55 calories per cup (or eight medium-sized berries), they offer 3.5 grams of fiber.
  • Strawberries are best when purchased from a local source because they tend to retain their sweetness when handled delicately, and they tend to endure less damage during a shorter transport.
  • I enjoy sliced strawberries on fresh spinach salads, but you can also indulge in a bowl with a light whipped topping for a guiltless dessert!

Other Spring Produce Stars:

  • Artichokes
  • Arugula
  • Beets
  • Bok Choy
  • Fava Beans
  • Potatoes
  • Rhubard

What are some of your favorite springtime vegetables and fruits?

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