Spring is when we shake the snow off and finally start to thaw out after a long, cold winter. Along with the thaw comes a crop of flavorful and healthy vegetables that you should consider adding to your diet. Much like our seasonal picks for the fall, we’ve selected a few of our favorites that are readily available. There may be some you haven’t utilized yet during their prime time!
Artichokes are an undervalued vegetable due to their daunting preparation, prickly appearance, and perhaps, a lack of familiarity in the United States (short of an artichoke-spinach dip). Throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, however, the artichoke is a widely used ingredient, celebrated for its delicate and flexible flavor.
Throughout the world, the artichoke is a widely used ingredient, celebrated for its delicate and flexible flavor.
It doesn’t hurt that artichokes are also very healthy for you and linked with lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Artichokes are also rich in antioxidants, folate, numerous vitamins, and dietary fiber!
How to Pick Them
Choosing a fresh artichoke is actually pretty easy. A good artichoke should feel heavy, especially compared to its size. Most importantly, look at the leaves. A fresh artichoke will have tightly closed leaves and be blemish-free. Don’t forget to lightly pull back a leaf and check the inside for any black marks, too!
How to Use Them
When preparing artichokes for cooking, it’s important you do it right. That means cutting the leaves to remove the thistles on the ends. Once it’s ready, you can fry them like the amazing Roman recipe for Carciofi alla guida, stuff them, boil them, or make them into a healthy dip!
Green peas are a legume that many of us are more familiar with, since many of us grew up with parents telling us to finish our peas! Spring is the best time to get fresh peas, and you don’t have to fear them like you might have as a kid! In fact, peas are incredibly versatile and can add a little something to almost any dish.
Peas are incredibly versatile and can add a little something to almost any dish.
By a little something, we don’t just mean flavor, either. These little green garden balls pack a surprisingly nutritious punch. For such a low-calorie side dish, they’re high in fiber, protein, and several key vitamins and minerals. They are also good sources of antioxidants and have other health benefits as a result.
How to Pick Them
Finding peas at your local grocery store is very simple. While it’s possible to find peas frozen and canned, this article is about finding the best of the best and the freshest ingredients. Part of the worry about canned peas is that they often have added sodium, decreasing the health benefits. You can quickly identify healthy, fresh peas by looking at their pods, the external shell. You want a bright, healthy-looking pod that appears plump or full.
How to Use Them
As we mentioned before, peas are very easy to use in a variety of different ways. The simplest way is by boiling or steaming the pods and eating them just like that. You can also enjoy them in a split pea soup, with pasta, or as a fresh flavor to an otherwise rich dish like our cottage pie recipe. Some people even eat them raw, straight from the garden, after washing them, of course!
Spinach, while available year-round, is also in its prime during the spring, especially in warmer regions. This doesn’t have to be the creamed spinach or limp, steamed spinach many of us are familiar with. Fresh spinach can actually be a delicious, vibrant ingredient that is both nutritious and flavorful.
The nutritional value of spinach is no joke.
One of the earliest superfoods, spinach has health benefits that makes it a great addition to your diet. This leafy green has long been associated as the source of Popeye the Sailor Man’s immense strength, but the nutritional value of spinach is no joke. While the myth behind spinach and Popeye may be due to a typo, spinach is truly rich in iron, folate, protein, calcium, and fiber!
How to Pick It
Fresh spinach at the grocery store should pass the look and feel test. A good sign of fresh spinach may also have a strong smell.
How to Use It
Spinach is simple to add to your diet. It can replace lettuce in most cases to give an extra nutritional edge to salads, burgers, or sandwiches. You can also use it as one of many veggies in a healthy vegetable lasagna. By combining it with artichokes, you can get spinach-artichoke dip, which is perfect for parties! Finally, you can really impress friends by using spinach to make a spinach pasta dough that’s a bright green and has a fresh taste!
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Spring is a time of renewal and refreshing green as we move out of the cold winter and into the warmer months. By embracing these seasonal treats in their prime, you can enhance your dishes and your health!