The long dark days of winter are almost behind us, and one of the first signs you’re likely to see is new vegetables and fruits turning up in the market or at your local farmer’s market. Here are a few of the new early spring arrivals you’ll want to experiment with.
An expensive indulgence at other times of year, asparagus turns up everywhere in spring at a price anyone can afford. Asparagus is most nutritious when fresh, so don’t hang onto it too long, but steam lightly with lemon juice and butter, roast in olive oil, or add to eggs and make this unusual Spanish revuelto.
Artichokes, Fiber’s Friend
Forget oatmeal – eat one medium-sized artichoke for dinner, and you’ve got more than 40 percent of your day’s fiber! Beyond that, artichokes aren’t the most nutrient-dense vegetable, but you get some protein, vitamin A, and because they make you feel full, they’re a great addition to a weight-loss plan. But beware – many people load artichokes up with butter or mayonnaise. Make a dip of lemon juice and just a little bit of butter instead.
This humble cruciferous veggie is often overlooked in favor of it’s better known brother, broccoli. But cauliflower is highly nutritious, providing B-vitamins, minerals, and 75 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C. It has a milder taste, making it perfect for soups and stews. And a one-cup serving has only 29 calories! Try it with shishito peppers in this delicious soup or toss it into pretty much any chicken dish. And lightly steamed, it makes a great dipper for hummus, bean, and yogurt dips.
Like all berries, strawberries are antioxidant powerhouses, boosting your immune system to ward off disease. The one thing to watch out for with strawberries is the pesticides – thanks to the use of fumigants, the Environmental Working Group puts strawberries number four on their list of the “dirty dozen” pesticide-heavy foods. While strawberry shortcake is an all-time favorite, this strawberry-rhubarb cobbler is a healthier alternative, and strawberries taste great in salads as well.
Sweet Snap Peas
Try dipping fresh snap peas in hummus, and you will have discovered one of the easiest and most nutritious lunch options around. One serving of snap peas provides almost 100 percent of your daily vitamin C, 21 percent of your vitamin A, and 4 grams of protein, too. Snap peas are a dieter’s friend; because you eat them in the pod, they are higher in fiber and more filling than regular peas. Snow peas and snap peas are delicious in this early Spring vegetable soup.