Eight Springtime Fruits & Vegetables to Cook with
Enjoy these delicious, seasonal produce to support a healthful diet.
Fresh, local foods that are picked at their prime not only offer the best nutritional value, but superior flavor and taste. Stephanie Miezin, Director of Nutrition at Canyon Ranch, shares why she looks forward to eating these eight different produce offerings each spring.
Tender, earthy, and sweet, asparagus is an exceptional source of folate. Also known as vitamin B9, folate is essential for DNA synthesis and repair, as well as brain development and function. Asparagus is also rich in prebiotic fiber, which can improve diversity and resilience of the gut microbial community, or microbiota.
From lemons to grapefruit to oranges and beyond, citrus brings refreshing bright, acidic and sweet flavors that compliment almost any dish or drink. Citrus are well-known for their vitamin C content, which plays important roles in supporting immune function and absorption of plant-based iron. These fruits are also rich in antioxidants to manage inflammation and soluble fiber that helps to lower blood cholesterol levels.
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These are the furled, spiraled fronds of a young fern plant—only available for a short window each spring. Fiddleheads are tender and have a flavor reminiscent of asparagus and broccoli. They provide vitamin K to support bone health and proper blood coagulation, as well as potassium, which can lower high blood pressure.
After a cold winter, fresh peas are one of the first spring vegetables to signal the start of warmer weather to come. Peas provide high-quality carbohydrates to power both the brain and the body. They also contribute to essential protein intake, providing 4g of protein per ½ cup, and are rich in prebiotic fiber that fuels and nourishes a healthy gut microbiome.
With their sweet-tart flesh and richly colored, slightly bitter skin, plums offer a fresh balance of texture and flavor when they come into season each spring. Plums are rich in polyphenols, which act as antioxidants in the body to help with the management of inflammation. They are also rich in beta-carotene to support healthy visual and immune function.
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Radishes belong to the brassica, or cruciferous veggie family, and come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. All radishes are sharp in flavor; indicative they are rich in the cancer-fighting compounds glucosinolates. Maximize the benefits of glucosinolates for health by choosing radishes in more raw preparations, such as in salads or slaws.
Available for a short time each spring, ramps are wild onions with a delicious and distinctive flavor that make them a seasonal favorite among chefs. These alliums provide micronutrients such as beta-carotene and selenium. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body and functions to support immune health, good vision, and act as an antioxidant. Selenium is a component of many enzymes and proteins in the body that are involved in thyroid hormone and DNA synthesis.
These gem-colored fruits are one of the best food sources of vitamin C, which supports immune function, managing inflammation, and collagen synthesis. Enjoy uncooked strawberries to maximize their vitamin C content and benefits. Berries also provide essential fiber for gut health and potassium for healthy blood pressure and muscle function. Strawberries are a key part of the MIND diet, which is an eating pattern that may help to decrease cognitive decline.