Spring is here!
Winter is officially over! I am dedicating this post to highlight some of my favorite spring seasonal produce powerhouses which thrive in California’s warming weather. These vegetable and fruit choices are not only in season or just about to be, they also offer some amazing health benefits!
This is a spring favorite. Not only is asparagus delicious and versatile, but it also packs a nutritional wallop – with 100% of your daily allowance of Vitamin K in a single cup of cooked spears. A rich source of folate and copper – along with many other vitamins and minerals – asparagus is touted for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. There’s more! This veggie works as a natural diuretic due to its high levels of the amino acid asparagine, helping to rid the body of fluid retention and excess sodium. Asparagus can be very simple to prepare - sauté with olive oil, garlic and chili and squeeze fresh lemon juice before serving or add to a fresh and colorful spring salad.
The growing season for strawberries in California is nearly year-round – January through November. April is the start of their peak, so this is when you will start seeing the nice, juicy, red ones at farmers’ markets. Strawberries act as an antioxidant, containing very high levels of Vitamin C, and the polyphenols in strawberries have been found to play a role in regulating blood sugar response. Strawberries are also a good source of fiber and many other important nutrients. Try eating them with Greek yogurt and a few slivered almonds, or a spinach, strawberry, goat cheese salad.
Lemons are an excellent source of Vitamin C (one of the mightiest antioxidants in nature as well as a potent immune booster). These sweet and tasty lemons are an amazing and healthy way to flavor other produce and protein. They are also great squeezed into water! Meyer lemons are smaller and sweeter and found in abundance in California from January to May. You can substitute Meyer lemons in most anything that calls for lemon juice or as an extra flavor to give almost any dish an extra fresh taste zing.
Other produce in season during spring which is mainly March through May, are apples, apricots, avocado, banana, broccoli, cabbage, celery, greens, green garlic, radish, rhubarb, spinach and Swiss chard.
Remember that Seasonality of food refers to the times of year when the harvest or the flavour of a food is at its peak. This is also usually the time when the item is the cheapest and the freshest on the market. The food's peak harvest time usually coincides with when its flavor is at its best.
To read further about health benefits of eating seasonal produce please see my post called Foods to Fall For from October, 2017.