With longer days, warmer weather and no big snowstorms on the horizon (we hope), the change in season is perfect excuse for spending more time outside and giving your routine a little pick-me-up. Why not add some new flavors to your menu as well with some seasonal fruits and vegetables? Buying fruits and vegetables in season often ensures your produce is fresher and more flavorful.
Strawberries and blueberries are good sources of vitamin C, a nutrient that supports the immune system. Although strawberries and blueberries are available year round in some form (dried, frozen, etc), peak season for both is April-June. Fresh strawberries can be added to cereal or eaten on their own as a sweet, healthy snack. Blueberries are often added to pancakes and muffins, but they can also use them to dress up plain yogurt. Or, combine both strawberries and blueberries together with yogurt and other fruit for a refreshing smoothie or parfait.
While shopping for your spring berries, why not grab a bundle of asparagus as well? Also reaching peak season around April, asparagus can be eaten by itself as a seasonal side dish or mixed with other vegetables and lean protein in a spring salad or stir-fry. Asparagus is a good source of folate, a nutrient shown to support heart health and is crucial for pregnant women. Artichokes, another popular spring vegetable, are another good source of folate. Whole artichokes can be steamed and served with vinaigrette, melted butter or other sauce to dip the leaves in, while artichoke hearts—the soft center of the bud—can be used in pasta dishes or salads.
This is just a sample of the fruits and vegetables that will be coming into season soon; cherries, beets, radish and cantaloupe are also popular spring produce items. Your local supermarket probably has a good selection of fruits and vegetables, but did you know that you can find many seasonal fruits and vegetables at you local farmers’ market?
Buying produce at a farmers’ market can save you money since you’re buying direct from the grower. It’s often fresher too, since locally grown produce doesn’t have to travel as far to get to your plate. There are a number of farmers’ markets in Massachusetts; use this tool from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources to find one near you. Unfortunately, the growing season in New England doesn’t start until June, but this chart gives an overview of what produce you can expect to be available locally each month.
(Information reviewed by MGH Nutrition Department)