Spring Into Fresh Eating

When the weather starts to warm up, thoughts of afternoon picnics, family barbecues and restaurant patio dining may begin filling your head.

This is also the perfect time of year to start enjoying all the seasonal produce that’s available. Sweet and tart fruits, crispy and bold vegetables — all of these abound in the warmer months and are perfect to include in any meal.

What’s a good pick?

It’s important to know exactly which fruits and vegetables are in season before you start adding them to your menu. Here’s a wide-ranging list of foods and important nutrients they provide:

Apricots                                   Potassium, Vitamins A and C

Asparagus                               Folate

Blueberries                             Vitamin C

Cantaloupe                              Vitamins A and C

Carrots                                    Potassium, Vitamin A

Casaba Melon                         Vitamin C

Cherries                                  Vitamin C

Currants                                  Fiber, Potassium

Fennel                                     Potassium, Vitamin A
Figs                                          Fiber, Potassium

Garlic                                       Vitamin C

Nectarines                               Vitamin A

Okra                                        Fiber, Folate, Vitamin C

Onions                                     Fiber, Vitamin C

Papayas                                   Folate, Potassium, Vitamins A and C

Peas                                         Fiber, Folate, Vitamin C

Pineapples                               Vitamin C

Raspberries                             Fiber, Vitamin C

Rhubarb                                  Fiber, Vitamin A

Shallots                                    Vitamins A and C

Snap Beans                              Folate

Spinach                                    Fiber, Folate, Vitamins A and C

Strawberries                           Fiber, Folate, Vitamin C

Swiss Chard                             Vitamins A and C

In general, it’s best to choose produce that has a stable and firm shape without soft spots, discoloration or molded areas.

Preparation

Whether you prefer a juicy nectarine or crunchy beans, there are many ways to enjoy spring produce.

One of easiest ways is to eat the fruit or vegetables raw. Make sure you rinse them with water first, or use a vegetable wash. Then, dry them thoroughly and eat away. Get creative; try topping a bowl of cereal with fresh cantaloupe slices or including chunks of carrots in your leafy salads.

If you don’t like the taste of raw produce, that’s OK — try adding it to the dishes you do like. For example, you can make rhubarb pies or bars, or add some cherries to your chocolate-chip cookies. Or, you could throw spinach into a chicken casserole and include onions and carrots in your beef stew.

The best thing you can do is to try a little bit of everything. Variety keeps your meals interesting, and your diet well balanced.

Source:  Foodfit.com, FruitsandVeggiesMoreMatters.org

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