Eating fruit and veg in the season has many benefits. Food is fresher, tastier, and costs less. Top chefs agree that seasonal eating is the way to go, and environmentalists agree that since seasonal produce is sourced locally, it’s better for the earth. As for nutritionists, they all agree that fresh fruit is the most nutritious. So what should you be stocking up on this spring?
1. Get the last of the winter produce
Winter veg such as Brussels sprouts and broccoli will be nearing the end of their availability. Look out for good prices, and consider getting extra to freeze for summer eating. It’s also the end of citrus time, so keep an eye out for the last of these winter fruits – if you can get a good price.
2. Summer salads here we come
Summer is not the best time for lettuce, although butter lettuce is still available. Now’s the time to look out for nice, crisp head lettuces before the weather gets too hot. Plan some healthy salads as side dishes or as a basis for work or school lunch.
If you’ve never actually included watercress in your menus, start this spring. It’s a great immune system booster and is said to have anti-cancer properties. Spring is the best season for watercress, so stock up and chow down!
It’s time to enjoy Popeye’s favorite food. Young spinach leaves are a great addition to your salads, or you can add them to stir fries just before they’re ready so that you maintain most of the nutritious goodness.
5. Bok Choi
Like spinach, Bok Choi is delicious in stir fries, but it’s just as good in stews and soups. Remember that the white stems are also yummy. Cut them up fine and cook them a little longer than you would cook the leaves.
6. Dandelion leaves
No, we’re not crazy. Dandelion leaves are a fantastic spring veg for salads and stir fries. Best of all, many of us will find them in our lawns rather than at the grocery store. Try making dandelion pesto as a gourmet treat.
7. Mustard greens
Not everyone likes the sharpness of mustard greens in salads, but the taste becomes milder with cooking, so if you’ve tried mustard greens raw and didn’t like them, give them another chance in stir fries. Try them sautéed with onions, or add them to bacon and onion fry for a meatier flavor.
Most of us are familiar with Kale, but have you ever turned it into a crunchy snack? Grill them lightly in the oven with a touch of olive oil until crispy as a starter or snack. Alternatively, they’re wonderful sautéed on their own or with other veggies, and if you’re into smoothies or hope to try this healthy way of getting extra nutrition, kale is an essential ingredient to try.
Asparagus is never cheap, but you’ll get the best prices now, and we all deserve a treat now and then. Ease your conscience by reminding yourself that Asparagus is very good for you. If you and your family are big fans, consider bottling some Asparagus for the summer.
10. Fava beans
A ‘must’ for vegetarians, fava beans are tasty, nutritious and in season now. Remove the outer pod, blanch them with hot water and squeeze them out of their waxy shells before adding them to the recipe of your choice. Not sure what to do with them? Grill them, roast them, stir-fry them add them to pasta dishes or mash them up fine to make something very like hummus. Although they take a little effort to prepare, it’s well worth it.
And a few extras
New potatoes are perfect right now, and apricots should be getting more plentiful. Grapefruits will be at their best until early in the summer, so look out for good deals when you’re out shopping. For those that love rhubarb, your time is now!
A visit to the local farmers’ market is an excellent way to see the full range of fresh seasonal veggies in your area. Shop with a friend to get bulk deals at better prices. Get creative and try adding a few unusual vegetables to your culinary repertoire.
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