10 Spring Fruits and Veggies You Should Try
The top produce items you're probably not buying -- but ought to be
By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column
Are you in a fruit and vegetable rut -- you know, buying the same old fruits and vegetables, week in and week out? For me, it's broccoli, baby carrots, zucchini, and spinach that fill my vegetable bin. Then it's apples, oranges, pears, bananas, and grapes for the fruit bowl.
But it's time we all walk on the wild side and try some new spring and summer fruits and vegetables. And I've got 10 great ones for you to start with -- as well as a couple of recipes to use them in.
Don't know how to store or eat them? Don't know how to pick them out in the supermarket? You have no more excuses, because I've also got the answers to those questions for the 10 lucky produce winners.
If you're still not convinced, consider this: Recent studies have shown that eating plenty of produce has been linked to lower rates of heart disease and some types of cancer, and may help lower blood pressure.
1. Mini Watermelons
Who doesn't like watermelons! These are easy to eat, easy to store, and generally have great flavor, too.
Buying tips: Find firm mini watermelons that feel heavy for their size, but that yield slightly when you press on them.
How to store: Ripen at room temperature. Once ripe, store cut or whole mini watermelons in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Nutritional attributes: 2 cups diced mini watermelon contains 20% of the Daily Value for vitamin A and 25% for vitamin C, according to data from Melissa's Produce.
Eating/cooking/serving tips: Use wedges or half slices to garnish plates. Or serve fruit salad in a hollowed-out mini watermelon half. Serve cubes or balls alone as a side dish, or in a fruit salad or fruit kabob.
You've got to try this new fruit, a hybrid of a plum and an apricot. I liked them even though I'm not crazy about plums.
Buying tips: They are ripe when they give under gentle pressure.
Best way to store: To ripen pluots, keep at 65-70 degrees.
Nutritional attributes: Nutritional information was not yet available for this new variety.
Eating/cooking tips: Anywhere you would eat and serve plums or apricots, have these instead!
3. Passion Fruit
This tropical fruit has a jelly-like inside, sweet-tart in flavor, with edible seeds. It gets the ooey-gooey award; you have to eat it with a spoon.
Buying tips: A ripe passion fruit has a wrinkled outer shell. Look for fruit that is full of color and fragrance.
Best way to store: If the skin is still smooth, ripen at room temperature, turning occasionally. Refrigerate ripe fruit in a plastic bag and use within three days, or freeze it.
Nutritional attributes: 4 pieces of passion fruit (2 1/2 ounces) contain 8 grams of fiber, 10% Daily Value for vitamin A, and 35% for vitamin C.
Eating/cooking tips: Cut the fruit in half and scoop out the edible pulp and seeds with a spoon. You can use as an ingredient in a smoothie, or in a sauce or filling.
4. Blood Oranges
They look like regular oranges on the outside, but inside are darkly colored and full of flavor.
Buying tips: Choose firm oranges that seem heavy for their size and have a sweet fragrance.
Best way to store: Store on the kitchen counter for up to one week, or two weeks if refrigerated.
Nutritional attributes: One orange contains 3 grams of fiber, 6% Daily Value for vitamin A, 120% for vitamin C, and 6% for calcium.
Eating/cooking tips: Colorful slices or wedges make great plate garnishes or a great snack. Segments add color and flavor to fruit salads or green salads.
5. Star Fruit
This fruit gets the award for the most unusual shape! It adds a refreshing tropical flavor to any meal or dish.
Buying tips: Look for firm, glossy-skinned fruit without bruising. Don't worry if you see browning on the tips of the ridges; it's a sign of ripeness.
Best way to store: Store in the refrigerator in a plastic or paper bag for up to a week. Or, you can slice the fruit and freeze it in sealable bags.
Nutritional attributes: One fruit contains 30% Daily Value for vitamin C.
Eating/cooking tips: Slice it horizontally into star shapes, and you have fun garnish for your plate or an attractive addition to any fruit salad or green salad. Remove the seeds before eating.
6. Sunburst Squash