Spring Vegetable Recipes and Tips
Fresh seasonal veggies are one more reason to celebrate spring.
By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
Each year when spring just seems to pop up out of nowhere, I'm reminded of the power that the weather and our surroundings have on a person's outlook. Seeing the hills blanketed with lush, green grass and the trees in bloom, walking outside without a jacket for the first time in months, feeling the sun shine on your face -- well, it just makes a person feel happier and healthier. And, as if spring weather weren't thrilling enough, the produce department begins to display a bounty of luscious spring vegetables.
The "same old, same old" veggies that saw us through winter are ready to be retired from the dinner table. I start looking forward to serving artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, sweet corn, fresh spinach, crisp green beans, and Swiss chard.
Here's how to buy those spring veggies, store them, and cook them, along with three new spring vegetable recipes to try.
Each cup of fresh asparagus gives you 3 grams of fiber and a cornucopia of antioxidants, such as vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin C, and folate. And you get all this for only 27 calories.
An artichoke makes you work for its 10 grams of fiber and 63 calories! You pull, dip, and scrape each leaf on a cooked artichoke. Then, with your top teeth, you scrape the flesh from the leaf. It takes about 10 minutes to properly eat an artichoke (I actually timed myself). Each medium globe artichoke also gives you 9 milligrams of vitamin C and 107 micrograms of folate.
If you don't like broccoli, chances are you've had it overcooked in the past. When broccoli is overcooked, its bright green color turns to dingy dark green and its flavor can go from pleasantly subtle to stinky-strong. If you're willing to give broccoli another try, try it raw in salad or as an appetizer with a light dip; lightly cooked in a stir fry; or steamed. It's worth the trouble because broccoli is what I would call a super-vegetable. One cup of fresh florets provides 2 grams of fiber, 2,130 international units (IU) of vitamin A, 66 milligrams of vitamin C, and 50 micrograms of folate, all for 20 measly calories.
Green beans are a popular side dish and a welcome addition to salads. Each cup of cooked snap green beans contributes 4 grams of fiber, 100 milligrams of plant omega-3s, 875 IU of vitamin A (some of which is from beta carotene), 41 micrograms of folate, and 55 milligrams of calcium. You'll get all of those nutritional benefits for only 44 calories.