Early Spring Produce Selections
Written By: Emma Squillace
A danger of eating healthy can be if you start to feel bored with what seems like limited food choices. However, if you find ways to switch up your healthy meals, you can have a lifetime of good choices with plenty of variety. A great way to find variety is to create meals around the produce that’s in season. These fruits and vegetables will be at their tastiest, and give you fiber, nutrients, and flavor. Here are some of our favorite early spring choices:
Spinach is one of those vegetables that you’ll find year round, and is always available frozen, but Spring is the time you can buy really fresh, tender spinach. Fresh spinach is a perfect base for a hearty salad with added protein like chicken, left over steak from the night before, or feta cheese and chopped walnuts. One cup of spinach gives you more than a day’s supply of Vitamin A and K, and plenty of folate, iron, and magnesium.
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, like kale and cabbage. Eating enough of this family of vegetables has been shown to lower cancer risk. You can also get your daily allowance of vitamin C from one cup of broccoli – which has only 31 calories! An easy way to prepare broccoli is to cut it into small pieces and sauté in olive oil with a little garlic, and some red pepper flakes if you like heat. You can also add broccoli to pizza, use it in stir-fries, or even make a pesto by combining it with basil.
Spring is the perfect time of year for asparagus. Although most people think of cooking this vegetable, it can also make a tasty addition to salad in its raw form. Slice thinly and mix into your favorite salad. Or if you prefer asparagus cooked, try steaming and adding fresh lemon juice and slivered almonds, or sautéing briefly. Roast asparagus is a family-favorite option too, especially served with a healthy yogurt-based dipping sauce. Asparagus has folate, vitamins A, C, and E – and only 22 calories per half cup.
We often think of summer as the best season for fruit, but at this time of year we’re starting to see some fruits come into season. Mangoes are a good choice, not only because they’re available but also because they have a high water and high fiber content. Fiber helps keep you from feeling hungry, and studies have linked high fiber diets to lower blood sugar levels. Additionally, mangoes have beta-carotene, which may help protect against colon and prostate cancers. You may see dried mango at the grocery store – but half a cup of dried mango can have over 200 calories and 60 grams of carbohydrates! Skip that and go for the fresh mangoes instead.
The “off season” for many fruits is the best time for citrus. If you’ve been snacking on oranges and grapefruit all winter, maybe it’s time for citrus variety. Pomelos are an unusual citrus fruit, but becoming more widely available. They look huge, but once you peel them you’ll see a lot of their size comes from an inedible rind/pith. They’re great because of their vitamin C content, and they’re a good source of potassium too. We’re also entering the last month or two to get fresh heirloom navels, a California favorite. Stock up on those while you can, or try blood oranges. They taste a lot like regular oranges, but the dramatic red colored fruit can make snacks and salads more fun.
Working some new fruits and vegetables into your diet can give you a change from your routine, and can boost your health. When you’re losing weight, it’s extra important to make sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs to function well. Your metabolism is never at its best without good nutrition. If you have been working to lose weight and want to talk to our experts, please give us a call. We can educate you about our surgical and non-surgical weight loss options for people wanting to lose 30 – 100 pounds or more. You can reach us at (855) 690-0565.