In the US, we practically enjoy unlimited access to any time of food at any time of the year. Although it’s nice to have watermelon in February and asparagus in August, many people don’t even know that foods have a season, let alone what foods are in season at any given time of year. But in the food world, local is the new exotic. Farmer’s markets are popping up in every neighborhood as consumers are realizing the benefits of eating food that was grown within miles of their mouths. Local food boasts a host of benefits, including better flavor, higher nutritional value, and less environmental burden. It’s healthier for you because you get the higher nutrient levels from just-picked produce. It’s healthier for the environment because local food uses less fossil fuel for transport. It tastes better because it really is fresh (not shipped-from-across-the-country-yet-still-bearing-a-label-that-says-fresh). And it’s also interesting, as each season brings a new crop of foods that you haven’t had for an entire year. Before you’ve had a chance to tire of its bounty, the season changes to bring new, flavorful foods.
If you want to eat healthy, home-cooked meals without all the fuss, try a seasonal pantry makeover! To do it, stock up on locally-grown foods—a fun trip to your local farmer’s market will yield the majority of the ingredients you need—and simply create meals based on what’s in season in your region. Availability will vary from region to region, but here is a list of foods that make spring their season, along with tips on how to incorporate the new-to-you ingredients into your meals.
I love spring vegetables because of their nutritional value and the fact that they are very easy to prepare. Spring vegetables can be prepared in a variety of ways ranging from stir fry to sauteing to boiling, steaming and so on. From artichokes to broccoli to asparagus, you cant ever go wrong with spring vegetables; they are the perfect addition to any meal with friends to give you all that fresh spring vibe.
Artichokes make for the perfect springtime appetizer if you serve artichokes that have been boiled until they are completely tender (about an hour) with homemade garlic butter for dipping, you will have a completely delightful meal. Another way to eat artichokes is to cook the artichokes and add to pasta sauce, pizza, stews or salads. I can just imagine how tasty it is already!
Although you can pick up asparagus at the supermarket at any given time of the year, however, I will warn you that asparagus tastes twice as good when it is freshly-harvested in the springtime. Asparagus can be grilled, steamed, braised, and sprinkle with some kosher salt for a simple, yet delicious side-dish.
They are known for their bright color, but did you know that besides actually being very good for you, when you pair them with peanut butter or any other nice dipping like ranch, they make for a quick and healthy midday snack. You could decide to even make a side dish like glazed carrots for a fancy gourmet dinner.
Collard greens tend to be harvested in abundance from spring through fall, this dark leafy green is the main ingredient in famous southern greens recipes, and they are also a rich source of calcium. In addition to that, collard greens are a very good source of vitamin B1, vitamin B6, and iron. They are also a good source of vitamin E, copper, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B5, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, niacin, vitamin B1, and potassium.
Fennel slightly resembles celery, with a bulbous base, which is the part that you eat. To prepare fennel, simply chop it into small spears and sauté it in olive oil and minced garlic until tender, then sprinkle with minced fresh parsley and cook a minute more. You can serve this over hot brown rice, add a little water and season to your desired taste to eat it as a soup, or even eat it as is.
Although I often hear mixed reviews about mushrooms and how some of them are very poisonous and bad for you, these particular wild mushrooms are so treasured, there’s even a website dedicated to morel “hunting,” complete with message boards and photos of people’s finds. Morels are delicious when they are sautéed or roasted and boast a nutty, meaty flavor and a rich and creamy texture. It is amazing to me that there are so many different types of good food out there, but not enough awareness about them. Foods like morels are really good for you and are very tasty if you take the time to prepare them properly.
High in antioxidants and vitamins K and A, these dark leafy greens are as nutritious as they are flavorful. The raw leaves can be added to salads or steamed or boiled until tender. I prefer to add in mustard greens to my salad because it gives it that added splash of flavor.
Although they can be mashed, these springtime babies are best roasted or boiled and topped with a pat of butter and some kosher salt to accentuate their fresh flavor.
Most famous for its part in rhubarb pie, this perennial vegetable can be cooked and pureed to make a sweet sauce, or even used to make oatmeal-rhubarb bars. Just make sure you don’t eat the leaves, which are toxic.
Spinach is such a dynamic vegetable and I love it for that. You can mix it in with baby lettuce for an exceptional salad, or sauté it with garlic to make a delicious side dish.
Fruit is always easy. It is ready to eat and tastes great. I just have one tiny reservation, if you’re looking for some new ways to incorporate fruit into your menu beside the “grab and bite” technique, try fruit smoothies, fruit cobblers and fruit-topped pancakes and French toast.
Apricots. These delectable and delicate fruits are delicious fresh, cooked into a sauce, or grilled. Get them while you can, because they don’t last long!
Strawberry shortcake, strawberry smoothies, strawberries al a mode…the possibilities are endless. Strawberries are my all time favorite type of berry, not just because they smell and taste so good. I love the health benefits that come with it as well such as vitamins, dietary fiber, and minerals that contribute to the overall health benefits of these berries.
Avocados are an excellent source of healthy unsaturated fats, but many people don’t know what to do with them outside of whipping up some guacamole. Try them sliced on a sandwich, or cubed into salads. Just remember that they don’t keep well, so try to use them immediately.
If you’ve done a little cooking, you probably know that the seasonings can make the meal. Here are some seasonal seasonings for your spring suppers.
If your pantry isn’t stocked with the season’s tastiest and most nutritious staples, then get yourself to your local farmer’s market and add flavor to your meals with the best spring seasonings; do it today!