Spring Into Fresh Produce
Spring is just around the corner, which means a variety of in-season produce will become available and affordable. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient-dense foods – loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and naturally low in fat and calories. Eating a balanced diet that incorporates a variety of fruits and vegetables has been shown to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.
Despite knowing the significant health benefits fruits and vegetables have to offer, very few Americans eat enough of them. According to the CDC, only one out of ten adults meet the daily recommendations. The number of produce servings you should eat each day will vary based on age, sex, and total calorie needs. For most healthy adults, the registered dietitians at Be Well Solutions recommend aiming for at least 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables each day. This goal can be met by filling half of your plate with colorful produce at every meal and choosing fruits or vegetables as a snack throughout the workday.
The USDA’s Seasonal Produce Guide provides an extensive list of fruits and vegetables in season now along with recipes and educational resources. Below we’ve highlighted three of our favorite spring produce picks.
Nutrition: The long slender stocks of asparagus are packed full of nutrients including fiber, folate, vitamin K, and vitamin A. One cup of cooked asparagus provides approximately 40 calories and 4 grams of fiber.
Purchasing and Storage: Choose asparagus with firm, dry tips. Stored asparagus can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days by wrapping the ends with a damp paper towel and place in a loose plastic bag.
Preparation: Try sautéing, baking, grilling, or roasting asparagus for a short period of time at high heat to preserve their crunchy texture. Season with allspice, basil, dill, ginger, thyme, or lemon slices for a delectable low-sodium side dish option.
Recipe: Broiled Asparagus Spears with Lemon from the American Heart Association
Nutrition: This tree-like vegetable comes into season during both the spring and fall. Broccoli provides a range of nutrients including fiber, vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, and vitamin A. One cup of cooked broccoli provides approximately 50 calories and 5 grams of fiber.
Purchasing and Storage: Choose broccoli heads that have bright or dark green florets. Stored broccoli can be kept in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Blanch and freeze any unused broccoli to reduce food waste.
Preparation: Broccoli can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Roasting, baking, steaming, and stir-frying are some of the preparation methods that preserve the most amount of nutrients during the cooking process.
Recipe: Cheesy Chickpea and Broccoli Bake from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Nutrition: Apricots are tiny but mighty. This small fruit is bursting with fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. One cup of apricot slices provides approximately 80 calories and 3 grams of fiber.
Purchasing and Storage: Choose bright yellow or orange-colored apricots that are plump and firm. Store apricots at room temperature until ripe then refrigerate in a plastic bag for 3-5 days.
Preparation: Step up your dessert game by grilling, roasting or broiling your apricots. These cooking methods will caramelize the fruit’s natural sugar and bring out an even sweeter flavor.
Recipe: Apricot, Berry, and Nectarine Fruit Salad from Dietitian Debbie Dishes