The arrival of spring not only brings all the lovely shades of green and floral colors to our gardens and landscape, but to the fresh seasonal produce stands at our local markets. There’s no better season than spring to appreciate and start cooking with more fresh fruits and vegetables.
Have you ever eaten a thistle? If you’ve had a globe artichoke, you’ve eaten a cultivated, edible thistle. This heart-healthy vegetable is rich in potassium, magnesium, dietary fiber, and vitamin C. Artichokes also provide iron, calcium, phosphorous, protein and vitamin B-6.
Watch this video to learn how to prepare fresh artichokes for cooking. http://www.oceanmist.com/artichokes/prepare-artichoke/ . Once you’ve prepared the artichoke, it can be baked, steamed, boiled, grilled or slow-cooked in a crockpot. To finish cooked artichokes on the grill, cut each artichoke in half. Brush with olive oil. Place cut side down directly on a hot grill for about 4 minutes. Turn the artichoke halves with tongs, and continue to grill until desired grill marks appear.
This spring vegetable is rich in folic acid, and is a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, vitamins A, B1, B3, B6, and C. It also contains protein, niacin, magnesium, copper, and calcium. This antioxidant rich food assists in fighting free radicals to prevent cell damage.
Start your morning or weekend brunch with Lemon Pepper Asparagus Scramble. Grilled Asparagus - Fresh asparagus tastes great grilled, and is so easy to do. Coat fresh spears lightly with olive oil, and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Season with sea salt, and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste. Grill over a hot grill for about 3 minutes.
Like the flavor of licorice? If so, then give sweet fennel, aka anise a try. Fennel has a pleasant licorice flavor. This antioxidant rich vegetable is high in vitamin C, and is a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, folate, and flavonoids. Its feathery fronds are similar to those on a dill plant.
Its crunchy green root resembles celery stalks, and can be eaten raw with your favorite vegetable dip. Its thick white bulb can be thinly sliced, and eaten fresh in fruit and green salads, or steamed, sautéed, or boiled. Try adding this health enhancing vegetable to your favorite spring dishes, including roasts, casseroles, soups, and vegetable stews.
These spring greens are full of flavor, and loaded with nutrients and health benefits. Mustard greens are an excellent source of vitamins K, A, and C. it is also a good source of folate, manganese, calcium, potassium, and vitamins E, and B6, phosphorus, copper, and dietary fiber. Not only do mustard greens have antioxidant and inflammation fighting properties, but it also supports healthy vision, neurological function, and cleanses and detoxifies the blood and liver.
Mustard greens have a peppery flavor and stronger scent when cooking, than most other greens. In rural southern cooking, mustard greens were traditionally boiled with ham hocks. To retain the flavor and nutritional value, sauté mustard greens in olive oil with a little garlic, and sea salt, to taste. Juicing is another way to up your intake of this highly nutritious vegetable. Toss fresh, washed mustard greens in the juicer for a healthy spring tonic.
Sugar Snap Peas, and Snow Peas
There are many reasons to love these peas in a pod. One of them is the fact that the whole pod of snow peas and sugar snap peas are edible, thus no shelling is required. Another reason to add these delicious peas to your menu this spring is its vast nutritional profile. Sugar snap peas and snow peas are high in Vitamins C, K, and A. They’re also a good source of protein, iron, folate, manganese, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.
Snack on the raw, crunchy green pods, or toss them in your favorite green salads. For a satisfying side dish, sauté the pea pods in olive oil with cooked, diced potatoes. Peas add flavor and nutrition to stir-fry entrées.
Originating in Siberia, rhubarb prefers cooler climates, so you probably won’t find it on the menu in Florida. Rhubarb resembles celery in appearance, but there’s no mistaking the difference when it comes to color. The pretty stalks vary from reddish pink, to light pink, and pale green. The edible stalks of this perennial rhizome is classified as a vegetable, yet it is most often prepared as a fruit. The leaves of the rhubarb plant are poisonous, so discard them if you grow your own.
With its high content of antioxidant vitamins C and A, rhubarb boosts immune function. Rich in vitamin K, it supports healthy bones. It is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which supports cardiovascular health. Rhubarb is also a good source of calcium, dietary fiber, B-complex vitamins, potassium, manganese, and magnesium.
Rhubarb is most often served cooked in a sweet-and-sour flavor combination. Its sour flavor pairs well with the sweetness of strawberries. It is most famously served in a strawberry-rhubarb pie.
Scallions (green onions)
This early spring vegetable is a culinary staple that is enjoyed raw or cooked. The white bulb and its long green stems add flavor and nutritional value to most dishes. It is a rich source of vitamin K, which support bone and heart health, and help prevent cancer. Scallions are a natural source of healthy carbohydrates, dietary fiber, potassium, iron, and vitamins A, and C in smaller amounts.
Scallions are a key ingredient in kimchee. Toss chopped green onions in omelets, stir-fry, beans, and pepper steak with rice.
The first fruit to ripen in spring is the popular strawberry. Who doesn’t love biting into a fresh, juicy strawberry? This sweet berry is an excellent source of vitamins C and A, and several inflammation-fighting antioxidants. It is a good source of dietary fiber, manganese, folate, potassium, and magnesium. Regular consumption of strawberries has been shown to lower the risk of various cancers.
While we usually think of enjoying this sweet fruit as a dessert, or in lemonade, it tastes great tossed with fresh spring greens. Try my deliciously sweet, antioxidant rich Red, White and Blue Salad with Lemon Lime Poppy Seed Salad Dressing.
(If fresh blueberries aren’t available, use orange sections or kiwi in this recipe.)
Peruse our Recipe Index for more delicious ways to enjoy strawberries and other spring favorites.
About the Author:
Deborah Tukua is a nonfiction author, and editor of Journey to Natural Living. She is author of seven books including, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats: 55 Fresh from the Blender Recipes, and Marketing Strategies for Chiropractic Success. Deborah has been a regular lifestyle feature writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.
Articles and recipes by natural living and healthy lifestyle author and writer,
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