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Want to add more flavor to your diet? Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables. In-season foods are picked at their peak, which means they taste great, are full of nutrients and provide maximum health and performance benefits. Plus, seasonal foods are cheaper and more widely available, so you can stock up on your favorites.
Spring is one of the best seasons for a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Below are my top five to try this year and some fun ways to enjoy them.
This vegetable is a good source of vitamins A and C, high in folate and naturally low in calories, sodium and fat. The vegetable's unique texture and flavor make it a satisfying side dish. Three great ways to prepare asparagus:
- Roast it in the oven with olive oil and garlic
- Steam it and add it to pasta dishes with olives and feta
- Grill it and sprinkle it with lemon juice for an outdoor barbecue
This seasonal vegetable is an excellent source of vitamin K, and a good source of vitamin A and calcium. This is a strong lettuce that works great as a wrap or cup. Three preps:
- Fill it with ground turkey and soy sauce for homemade lettuce wraps
- Make individual salads with butter lettuce leaf as the base
- Shred it and top with shaved parmesan for a healthy start to a meal
Watercress is an excellent source of beta-carotene, vitamins A, B1, B6, C, E and K; and it contains abundant iodine, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc. It also contains a flavonoid called quercetin, which is thought to reduce inflammation and to serve as a natural antihistamine, aiding in muscle recovery. This seasonal vegetable has a unique peppery taste.
- Make your own spring rolls with grilled chicken, watercress and a sauce of your choice
- Mix it with fennel for a tasty salad base, then add other toppings
- Puree it with potatoes and onions to make watercress soup
Rich in potassium, fiber and iron, apricots are a great fruit to try this spring. They add flavor and color to any healthy grain dish, such as barley or quinoa.
- Add dried apricots to a quinoa salad for lunch
- Mix with almonds for an afternoon snack
- Stir them into muffin or bread batter for a sweet addition to baked goods
Green peas are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, including vitamins C and E, plus a good amount of the antioxidant mineral zinc. They are also a reliable source of omega-3 fats.
- Make your own fried rice with peas and carrots
- Roast them with salt and pepper for a crunchy afternoon snack
- Sauté them with shiitake mushrooms for a new side dish
What fruits or vegetables are you most looking forward to this spring? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!
Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian in private practice at Rebecca Bitzer and Associates. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations for athletes of all ages and activity levels, and is an active member of the Sports Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Visit dietitianindc.blogspot.com for running and recipe updates.