10 Healthy Spring Foods
After a long winter of mostly root vegetables, spring is the time to break out some fresh flavors.
As soon as you see fresh blueberries in the produce aisle, you know that spring is nigh. They are high in vitamin C and also a good source of fiber. Blueberries are best when stored at room temperature or refrigerated in a single layer. They last only a few days, but you should have no problem finishing these sweet little gems before their time passes.
Apricots are a funky little fruit similar to a peach. They are an excellent source of vitamins A and C and a good way to get more potassium in your diet. Look for apricots with a deep yellow color and no sign of green. They should be firm with tender, velvety skin. Apricots can be stored at room temperature or refrigerated. You can poach under-ripe apricots in sugar and water to soften them.
These large melons pack a mega dose of vitamin A and vitamin C. It can be difficult to guess the ripeness of a melon, but a few simple hints can demystify the selection process:First, press the stem of the cantaloupe--the circular end at the bottom--with your finger. The stem should yield slightly to pressure. Then, sniff the stem. It should smell like melon. Avoid melons with a pronounced yellow color or moldy aroma – this means it’s overripe.
Similar to peaches, but without the fuzzy skin, nectarines are a good source of vitamin C and very tasty. A ripe nectarine is plump and slightly soft, with a sweet aroma. They keep at room temperature for a couple of days and longer in the refrigerator. Nectarines are great raw, but check out these recipes:
Get a jump on summer flavors with pineapple. This tangy, but sweet fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C. Look for golden orange-brown skin and leaves that will pull away gently. Pineapples will store at room temperature for several days. Make sure to refrigerate cut pieces. They can be eaten raw, but are also delicious roasted or grilled.
Asparagus will start to come in by the bushel during the spring months. It is a wonderful source of vitamin A, vitamin C and folate. Look for thin or fat shoots with tight buds at the top. The stalks should be firm and smooth with no wrinkles. Asparagus is best served hot, drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice, or chilled with your favorite vinaigrette.
Snap beans are a wonderful source of vitamin C and a good way to consume fiber and vitamin A. A ripe snap bean will have a bright color, without any brown or soft spots. Beware: Larger pods may be tough or bitter.
It’s not an obvious veggie to throw in your shopping cart, but fennel is a great source of fiber and is loaded with vitamin C and potassium. Look for fennel with short, tight, overlapping celery-like stalks and feathery leaves. The bulb should be large, tightly compact and bright. Fennel has an anise or licorice flavor that becomes mild when it is cooked. Fennel can be braised, grilled, roasted, steamed or served raw.
Shallots are like onions, but with a more delicate flavor. They are an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C. Shallots should be plump and well shaped. Avoid shallots that are dry or have sprouted. When you peel shallots, you’ll notice that they separate into multiple cloves, a lot like garlic. They are delicious cooked or raw, and are the basis of many classic sauces.
These pretty leaves are a wonderful source of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K and also provide magnesium. The leaves should be tender, crisp and brightly colored, but not overgrown. Swiss chard is actually available year round, but tends to be tough in the summer months. Keep refrigerated in a plastic bag to maintain moisture.