Fill Your Plate With These Flavor-Packed Spring Fruits and Vegetables

Take a look around the vegetable aisles and from season to season you’ll notice a trend. Each season (spring, summer, winter or fall), provides an abundance of fruits and vegetables that are affordable and super fresh. Eating fruits and vegetables grown locally saves your hard-earned dollars and contributes to your overall health. When vegetables sit in cold storage for weeks they lose flavor and nutrients. Just the opposite, when given the benefit of soaking up some sun they maximize nutrients and become their ultimate flavor-packed best. If you’re fortunate enough to have a farmers market within your reach make the effort to shop there. Most markets open up in the spring and close in the fall. You won’t find better prices or a tastier selection of fruits and vegetables then at a farmers market. But don’t worry if a market isn’t available, your local grocery store will almost always buy their produce in season because it’s good for their customers and their profits. Take advantage of these springtime fruits and vegetables to shake up your usual mealtime routine.
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  • Artichokes

  • You'll find several varieties of artichokes to choose from with Globe and Jerusalem being the most popular. These artichokes are larger in size and have a creamier heart. Artichoke lovers can’t resist the center of an artichoke termed the "heart." While you can buy artichoke hearts canned and jarred, the taste of a fresh artichoke is best. This super interesting vegetable provides an abundance of antioxidants including vitamins C, K, and fiber. If you haven’t tried steaming an artichoke to satisfy a snack craving, then you’re missing out. When steamed tender, the leaves can be picked off and the artichoke meat gently scraped off with your teeth revealing the delicious heart.
  • Asparagus

  • Asparagus has been a spring vegetable favorite for many years. It has a short growing season, so you’ll want to snap it up quickly. You’ll find asparagus offered in green and white varieties with the white stalks grown underground preventing them from producing the chlorophyll that would turn them green. Nutritionally, asparagus provides fiber, and plenty of vitamins A, C, E and K. Dieters love the natural diuretic benefits of asparagus due to its high levels of the amino acid asparagine. But it's the versatility of this spring vegetable that keeps asparagus lovers coming back for more. Chopped into stir-fries, shaved into salads, roasted in the oven, or simply steamed, this is a vegetable worth adding to your menu.
  • Avocado

  • With Haas avocadoes most prevalent in markets, you’ll find quite a variety of this fruit available in the spring including Bacon, Fuerte, Gwen, Lamb Hass, Pinkerton, Reed, and Zutano. This fruit of an avocado tree is termed a super-food for its heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids considered to contribute to heart health. Avocadoes help your body absorb other essential fat-soluble vitamins. A popular trend is to mash an avocado onto whole-grain toasted bread to get all the heart-healthy benefits of this tasty fruit.
  • Carrots

  • The well-known carrot is a go-to spring, summer and fall crop for weekend farmers who count on this sweet vegetable to consider their gardens successful. Carrots are easy to grow in almost any climate, and add color to salads, soups, stews, and stir-fries. These days you can plant or buy a variety of carrots in colors ranging from purple, black, red, white and yellow. Carrots are affordable in markets almost year around with even organic offerings costing just a few dollars. Don’t relegate carrots to your green salads! When you roast them in the oven you’ll have a super sweet treat too.
  • Fennel

  • You’ll find fennel hiding on the vegetable shelves at your market, so you’ll have to hunt around to add this vegetable to your must-have list. Fennel has a very pale green bulb with stalks shooting out and lovely green fronds on top. The whole stalk is edible, but most people use the bulb when they cook. Fennel has a slightly sweet licorice flavor. Fennel contains a ton of fiber making it great for dieters looking to fill up, and that added fiber helps lower cholesterol contributing to overall heart health. With plenty of potassium, calcium, and magnesium, this spicy vegetable promotes healthy blood pressure. Fennel is often used in Greek and Italian cuisine, but equally delicious thinly sliced into a salad for added crunch.
  • Kumquats

  • This tiny fruit has a fun name to pronounce, but don’t be fooled by these miniature citrus fruits. Produced from a tree in the Rutaceae family originating from the Asian-Pacific region, they look like a tiny orange. Kumquats are comprised of a variety of essential oils giving them a wonderful citrus aroma, not to mention fiber, potassium, calcium and vitamin C beneficial for overall health and well-being. This fruit increases immunity and improves cardiovascular health. With a sweet and slightly tangy flavor, you can eat the entire fruit, skin and all, but beware of the seeds as they can have a bitter taste.
  • Mangoes

  • This popular tropical fruit is often considered the king of fruits due to the fact that it’s been around for more than 6,000 years and was a favorite of kings in ancient India. Cultivated in many regions of the world, mangoes remain popular to this day because they have a super sweet, creamy flesh. Yellow in color and oval in shape, mangoes have a large seed in the center, they’re packed with vitamins A and C, and antioxidants that boost immunity and reduce inflammation in the body. Tossing mangoes into salads and salsas is a popular cooking use, but they shine their best sliced and eaten alone.
  • Peas

  • Peas come in all shapes, sizes and varieties and are another easy to grow crop for weekend gardeners. Most people think peas are of the vegetable family, but they’re actually a legume much liked lentils and chickpeas. Regardless, they make the list of spring vegetables. Sugar snap peas are plump and have edible pods, Snow peas are flat with tiny peas, and shelled garden peas have a shell that isn’t edible with large, plump peas. Peas are at their best at the peak of spring when they have a sweet taste and starchy texture. This is another spring vegetable packed with phytonutrients, minerals and antioxidants like vitamin C and K. Toss peas into stir fries, salads, soups or stews for a delicious, healthy meal.

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