Continued from Welcome These Seasonal Spring Foods – I
Fresh artichokes have been ignored for long, especially when it is so easy to buy the packaged, marinated variety. But packaged artichokes are usually soaking in oil and may have added sodium or other unhealthy additives. So, go for fresh artichokes and you’ll get all the antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals this vegetable has to offer.
Raspberries are ranked as one of the richest sources of antioxidants. But they’re very delicate and lose their nutritional richness with every day they are off the vine. If you purchase raspberries at the grocery store, do ask a salesperson when the shipment was delivered, and how far it had to travel.
6 large lemons (1 1/2 cups juice)
3 medium limes (1/3 cup juice)
3/4 to 1 cup honey
6 cups water
2 cups fresh raspberries
Lemon and/or lime slices (optional)
1. In a 2 1/2-quart pitcher, combine lemon juice, lime juice, and 3/4 to 1 cup honey. Add water and raspberries. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
2. Just before serving, gently stir to combine. Pour into ice-filled glasses. Add lemon and/or lime slices, if desired.
Now put down that vegetable peeler when you think of carrots, as these beta-carotene-rich ladies hold their stash of nutrients in or just below that outer layer. Just let the carrots soak in water for few minutes, scrub the dirt off and enjoy. Little known fact: The baby carrots found in stores don’t hold as much nutritional value as larger carrots because the skin is removed during processing.
While spring is here, don’t even look at the canned or the frozen variety; instead bask in the hurried freshness of the spring spinach. Hurried because the quicker the vegetable is eaten after being harvested, the more the nutrients are retained. So, for a Popeye-sized helping of vitamins K (which helps keep blood healthy), C (which strengthen immune function), and A (which keeps vision sharp), toss a few bunches of fresh spinach into your basket.
1 1/2 cups baby spinach
2 eggs plus 2 egg whites, whisked together
1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 cups romaine lettuce
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons low-fat Italian dressing
Dash of salt and pepper
1. Spray skillet with cooking spray and sauté spinach for 2 minutes, until wilted.
2. Stir in eggs, ricotta, and salt and pepper.
3. Cook over medium heat without stirring for 4 minutes; then flip frittata and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
4. Serve with lettuce tossed with pine nuts and dressing.
All those living in California, think yourself as blessed because you can steal this juicy fruit locally. The rest of the country will find them plucked from West Coast trees and shipped during the spring months. So why Tangerine and not say, Orange? Because their flesh is darker than most, meaning more beta-carotene is naturally present in the fruit. Plus, snacking on these can help strengthen your vision, boost your immune function, and lower your risk of heart disease. And the bonus? The delicious, tangy-sweet flavor!
Asparagus can be found in every vegetable section, once spring arrives. Packed with folate (great for expectant moms), high in vitamins A and C, and rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants, these lovely green stalk are meant to be used up the same night, as asparagus tend to lose flavor once they are harvested.
1 lbs. asparagus, trimmed
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs, such as a mix of basil, tarragon, and parsley (or all basil or all parsley)
2 tbsp drained capers, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 450 F.
2. Toss the asparagus in a bowl with the olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.
3. Spread the asparagus in one layer on a baking sheet. Roast until just tender, 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus (thinner ones will cook more quickly).
4. Transfer the asparagus to a serving dish and toss with the herbs and capers. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Swiss Chard’s thick, crunchy stalk and hardy, wide leaves have a taste what most would describe as “half spinach, half beet”. Chard is chock-full of vitamins and minerals, especially magnesium, which can relax muscles and boost levels of mood-lifting serotonin in the body. Plus, it’s a great source of iron for vegetarians who may not be getting enough without eating meat.
So, forget about “what to buy?” during your next shopping trip. Instead, dream about the freshness and the tonnes of nutrients that these seasonal foods will bring to your table.