Now that it is the month of April, spring is in the air! The weather is just starting to get a little warmer, flowers are beginning to bloom and a new season is dawning. And with a new time of year, comes a new array of fruits and veggies that are now in season that you should definitely take advantage of. Here is a list of six foods that you can use to freshen up your meals, along with some tips on how to prepare these foods.
Strawberries are in the peak of their season during the early spring time. They are juicy, sweet, tart and did I mention delicious! Strawberries are a great source of fiber, potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants. Some benefits of strawberries include boosting your immune system as it provides 150% of your body’s vitamin C requirement; enhances cardiovascular health through potassium which counters the effects of sodium in the body. This in turn, lowers your blood pressure and improves the flow of blood to the brain- reducing your risk of a stroke.
I personally love to make my own strawberry jam. It’s a lot simpler than you think! All you need is a bunch of hulled strawberries (without the green tops), sugar, and a hint of lemon juice. Mash the strawberries in a bowl, then combine all ingredients in a pot. Let everything boil until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F.
Rhubarb is a classic spring food that warmer days are upon us. The season is relatively short (April-June), but tends to be a hot commodity at your local farmer’s market or grocery store. In looking at it, I often compare it to be a red celery, as it is a stalk food that is very tart. Rhubarb is a great source of calcium, vitamin K, iron and magnesium. Rhubarb plays an integral role in bone health since it is rich in both calcium and vitamin K; boosts your metabolism by increasing the rate at which your body burns fat; and maintains a healthy digestive system ensuring you have regular and smooth bowel movements.
I love a good rhubarb crumble. Just take a bunch of rhubarb and cut into 1 inch pieces. In a bowl mix together the rhubarb, flour, vanilla extract and spoon into a 9 x 13 inch backing dish. For the crumble topping, in a bowl combine some flour, salt, brown sugar, oats and butter, and sprinkle on top of the rhubarb. Bake in a 375 degrees F oven for 35-45 minutes.
Asparagus are a bright green vegetable that is full of different vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, C, E, and K, folate, iron, protein, fiber and amino acids. Asparagus can help flush excess fluids and salts from your body and lowers your risk of a urinary tract infection. It also helps fight gas and bloating with a balance of good bacteria in your digestive track.
If you’re not into roasting vegetables, you should get into it now! Chop the asparagus (using only the spears), and toss in a bowl with olive oil, chopped garlic, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.
Carrots come in a variety of different colors and are nutrient-rich foods. They contain antioxidants, beta-carotene, vitamin A, potassium and vitamin C. Carrots have most commonly been known to be essential for good eye health and preventing vision loss as we age. They also aid in fighting bacteria and toxins in our mouths that can cause a number of dental problems such as bleeding gums and tooth decay. And through their antioxidants, they can improve the health of your skin by keeping its elasticity which is associated with youthful skin.
I do like to eat raw, peeled carrots with some good ranch dressing. But if you prefer your carrots cook, I recommend to sautéed them. Peel and cut the carrots on diagonally and cook in a saucepan with salt, pepper, butter, olive oil and any herbs that you like. I tend to use thyme and rosemary in my butter sauces.
Mint is an herb that sweet and has a cool aftertaste. It is a great source of antioxidants and menthol. Mint has been known to help relieve inflammation caused by seasonal allergies, break up mucus, and alleviate pain and discomfort caused by gas.
I find mint to be so refreshing, especially on a hot summer day. I love to infuse my water to give it an extra kick. Mint is a great herb to mix with your favorite fruit or vegetable such as strawberries and/or cucumbers.
Basil is a fresh smelling herb that is a great source of different vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, K, folate, calcium, magnesium and potassium. Basil helps with good and strong bones to lower the risks of osteoporosis; eases joint paint caused by arthritis; boosts your energy; and prevents cognitive degeneration for a healthy brain.
I love to add some basil with my chicken and tomatoes. In a saucepan, cook the chicken tomatoes, garlic, butter and basil together. Not only will it taste good, but will leave an awesome aroma in the kitchen!