Our 5 Favorite Spring Foods

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I don't know about you, but I'm so over winter. I'm so grateful that spring is officially here. I'm tired of eating heavy comfort foods that our bodies crave all winter.

One of the best things about spring is all the all the fresh, light, delicious produce that starts to appear at farmers markets and in the supermarkets.

Today we're counting down our top five spring foods (in video format!):

See a summarized version of this video below.

1. Asparagus
In 1 cup, this veggie has just 31 calories, 3 g each of fiber and protein. It's loaded with vitamin C, folate--which is especially important for women who are expecting and those who might be trying to get pregnant--and manganese!
As for cooking, keep it simple: Steam, roast or grill the spears.

There's a trick to figuring out where to cut it. Take a piece between your hands, hold it at both ends and snap off the end. This end part is woody, and it will end up in my compost bin or maybe in stock. This longer part is what will become your dinner.

2. New potatoes
This might surprise you, but potatoes are not a food that you need to fear. First of all, we want to clear up a misconception. The carbs in potatoes are complex, not simple. If you're worried about blood sugar spikes, keep the fiber in the potato by keeping the skin on. That's where most of the nutrients are. You'll be surprised to know that 50% of your daily vitamin C can be found in 1 cup of potatoes--for just 104 calories, plus 4 g fiber and 3 g protein. They're loaded with potassium, too.

Limit portions--you'll find that smaller, new potatoes like Yukon Gold and fingerlings are much less starchy than the big Russet baking potatoes, which are often up to two servings each. You can even find potatoes that are purple or pink inside, which is really neat to see! (Watch the video to see a magenta-hued potato.) They stay vibrant even after cooking, so give those a try if you can find them.

3. Lettuce & baby greens
Spinach, baby greens, baby chard, baby whatever you can find… we all know we're supposed to eat plenty of dark leafy greens every day. They're on every super foods list. The mature varieties can be a little tough. The tender baby varieties that you find in the spring are tender and small. You can eat them raw with no problem. We like to puree them into smoothies, and you can steam them and serve with just about any main dish. You can chop and stir into pasta sauce. You can do just about anything with these greens.

In 3 cups of greens, there are just 20 calories--basically nothing-- plus 80% vitamin A, 20% vitamin C, and 6% calcium & iron.

4. Fresh herbs: chives, dill, mint, and parsley
A lot of people think of herbs as something that doesn't really need to go into the food budget. It's not really something they want to spend money on, but this whole bunch of parsley was just $2 at my supermarket. Each time I use it, I'll only need a handful, so this will last me several days.

I store it the same way I do asparagus--upright in a glass of water to keep it fresh. You can also put a plastic bag loosely on top.

Parsley goes well with just about anything, and I like parsley with garlic, lemon zest and juice, olive oil and salt and pepper for a tasty dipping sauce or marinade for chicken or fish.

Some other herbs that are coming into season are chives, mint, and dill! Fresh dill would go great with our new potatoes. Mix it into Greek yogurt with a little garlic, salt and pepper, and it will be so good.

5. Strawberries
This one is my favorite and probably yours: strawberries. If you've ever tasted a strawberry in winter, you'll know why it's so important to eat seasonally. It's cheaper, it's fresher, and there are more nutrients in the produce because it doesn't sit around as long. I really wish that you could smell these strawberries because I actually stopped in my tracks at the grocery store. It was really early this morning, and I couldn't find the strawberries. Then I realized they were literally right under my nose. I smelled them before I saw them.

You know what to do with strawberries: Eat them plain, chop them up over yogurt or slice them into a salad.

Here's a quick salad you can make with these ingredients:
Slice up some strawberries, mix them with some baby greens, maybe some roasted asparagus chopped up, a handful of parsley, and just a quick vinaigrette. Add some sliced almonds or chopped walnuts and maybe some cheese: goat cheese or feta, something really soft and rich. Boom! You're going to have this amazing spring salad in five minutes flat.

Those are our top five spring fruits and vegetables, but you might also encounter these yummy foods:
  • Artichokes
  • Carrots
  • Fennel
  • Morel mushrooms
  • Peas
  • Rhubarb