What to Eat This Spring

In the US, we enjoy practically unlimited access to any food 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's a list of foods that make spring their season, along with tips on how to incorporate the new-to-you ingredients into your meals. 

Spring Vegetables

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Artichokes. A perfect springtime appetizer, serve artichokes that have been boiled until tender (about an hour) with homemade garlic butter for dipping. Or add cooked artichokes to pasta sauce, pizza or salads.

Asparagus. Although you can pick up asparagus at the supermarket any time of the year, it never tastes as good as freshly-harvested springtime asparagus. Grill, steam, or braise, and sprinkle with some kosher salt for a simple side-dish.

Carrots. Pair them with peanut butter for a quick and healthy midday snack, or make a side dish like glazed carrots for a gourmet dinner.

Collards. Abundant spring through fall, this dark leafy green is the main ingredient in famous southern greens recipes. Collards are also a rich source of calcium.

Fennel. Fennel slightly resembles celery, with a bulbous base, which is the part that you eat. Chop into small spears and sauté in olive oil and minced garlic until tender, then sprinkle with minced fresh parsley and cook a minute more.

Morels. These 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 sautéed or roasted, and boast a nutty, meaty flavor and a rich and creamy texture.

Mustard Greens. 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.

New Potatoes. 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.

Rhubarb. 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. Mix with baby lettuce for an exceptional salad, or sauté with garlic to make a delicious side dish.
 

Spring Fruits

Fruit is always easy. It is ready to eat, and tastes great. But if you're looking for some new ways to incorporate fruit into your menu besides 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!
  • Strawberries. Strawberry shortcake, strawberry smoothies, strawberries al a mode…the possibilities are endless.
  • Avocado. Avocadoes 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.

Spring Seasonings

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.
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Watercress
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. To find a farmer's market near you, visit www.localharvest.org, and enjoy the bounty of spring!
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Member Comments

Thanks for the article Report
If I can't finish avocado right away I cut up the remaining and freeze for smoothies. Report
THANKS Report
Thanks for sharing. Great information Report
The articles are good but I benefit a great deal from the comments. Thanks for sharing. Sincerely!
Report
If you want to try dandelion greens it is best to get the small leaves early in the spring. My mother used to lay a light weight board on top of several plants to keep them from getting so deep green while they grew. Now I am sure the dark green leaves have more nutrition in them but by adding the light coloured leaves it kept the salad from tasting so strong. As kids we thought the darker leaves would sometimes taste bitter. She served the salad with a dressing of warm oil & vinegar. Report
Love my vegetables Report
Love the rainbow....eat the rainbow!! Report
Lots of delicious vegetables! Report
I love the extra vegetable ideas... Report
Great suggestion! Report
Thank you Report
PLCHAPPELL
Good suggestions Report
Love my veggies. Report
Great fresh suggestions. Report


 

About The Author

Liza Barnes
Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.
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