Maybe you started a garden earlier this year because of all the warm weather we’ve been having. Or you’ve followed the rule of thumb to wait until after Easter to begin planting. Either way, you should be seeing a lot of fresh springtime produce sprouting up in the garden or at your local farmers market now.
And we all know how important eating well is to your overall health. Springtime veggies and fruits add tons of dark, leafy greens and a variety of other colors to lunch and dinner (and even dessert), with bright flavors and plenty of healthy nutrients. In the South, you’re likely to find lettuces, herbs, broccoli and cauliflower all in season right now, along with some early crops of fruits like peaches and nectarines.
It’s important to eat vegetables and fruits that are in season because they have the best nutritional value — and eat locally sourced varieties whenever possible to support local farmers, too.
We’ve got some ideas on how to use some of the springtime bounty in your next meal.
- Grilled Peach Salad. Peaches are just coming into season in April and are a good source of antioxidants and vitamin C. Grilling them brings out a deep, smoky and sweet flavor. This salad also features candied curry pecans for extra crunch and spice.
- Easy Strawberry Smoothie. Fruit smoothies are a simple way to pack fresh fruits and lots of flavor into a beverage that can double as breakfast or a meal replacement if you pack it with extra protein, fiber and grains. Strawberries are rich in antioxidants and have benefits for heart health and blood sugar control.
- Roasted Cauliflower “Steaks.” This is an easy way to make even cauliflower haters fall in love. Slice a large head of cauliflower into thick “steaks” and roast them to get savory flavor out of this high fiber and B vitamin-rich cruciferous vegetable. No worries if your steaks fall apart when roasting, they’ll still be tasty. And this recipe’s chimichurri sauce packs a punch of garlic and chopped fresh garden herbs that make this a great side dish.
- Hearty Cabbage Roll Soup. If you’re dealing with some springtime allergies or a cold, you might want to try this comforting soup. Cabbage rolls are a staple of New Year’s dinners, but the nutrient-rich cabbage keeps growing into early summer. Consider this soup a deconstructed stuffed cabbage. Add in lean ground meat and bone broth to pack in more healthy ingredients.
- Healthy Broccoli and Chicken Stir Fry. Broccoli is perfect for an Asian-inspired stir-fry, and it’s also good for your heart health and supporting the immune system. This recipe offers some alternatives to some of the sweet sauce additives that tend to up the calories and sugar content without losing the flavor. Be sure to use an oil with a high smoke point, like grapeseed or avocado oil, for stir-fries so the oil doesn’t burn.
- Simple Pickled Radishes. They are rich in antioxidants and minerals like calcium and potassium and can help lower high blood pressure and improve your heart health. But their pungent, sometimes bitter flavor can be a turn off for many. Sliced thin and pickled with a few spices, though, and radishes take on a whole new flavor profile that works great in salads and as a topping while still maintaining that fresh crunch. Best of all: The pickling process doesn’t take long, so you can use them in less than an hour or store them in the fridge for up to two weeks.