Food for Life: Seriously scrumptious scrambled tofu
Foods That Are Scrumptious in Spring
Spinach, strawberries, and sugar snap peas — these are just a few of spring's finest foods.
By Marie Suszynski
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
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If you love getting the freshest seasonal fruits and seasonal vegetables, spring is a time to celebrate. During the spring, many farmers’ markets start up for the year and supermarkets begin stocking more local foods.
“I really get excited at this time of year because I’m finally able to eat more than just oranges, grapefruits, and apples,” says Jessica Levinson, RD, owner of nutritioulicious, a nutrition counseling practice in New York City. Levinson tries to eat fruits and vegetables that have been grown locally, and she always sticks with seasonal food.
Food that’s fresh from the ground not only tastes better, but it also has more nutritional value, Levinson says. Fruits and vegetables that are grown in places far from where you live are often picked before they have fully ripened so they don’t go bad while they are being transported, Levinson says. In the process, they lose nutrients.
But when you eat and cook seasonal foods and are able to choose fruits and vegetables that were grown locally, you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck, both in terms of taste and nutritional value.
Savory Spring Fruits and Vegetables
What’s in season in the spring depends on where you live. Here’s a general guide to seasonal foods that may be available in your area during the spring months:
- Sweet corn.Nothing says spring like sweet corn on the cob. It’s the sweetest right after it’s been picked, so choose corn that’s ripe and has bright green husks.
- Berries.Choose strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries that look firm and are colorful. Another way to tell if they’re fresh: the price. The more expensive they are, the more likely they have traveled thousands of miles — their price reflects the cost of transport, Levinson says.
- Baby greens and romaine lettuce.Fresh lettuces start to appear in the spring and continue through the summer. Look for crisp, fresh heads of lettuce, Levinson advises.
- Spinach.This is another great green to use for salads, add to pasta, or eat steamed as a side dish. Look for crisp leaves that smell fresh and that aren’t spotted.
- Sugar snap peas.Sweet and delicious sugar snap peas are great for blanching and snacking on, Levinson says. Choose crisp sugar snap peas with firm, green pods and avoid any that are darker or lighter green.
- Asparagus.Like many fruits and vegetables at the supermarket, you can find asparagus all year round, but these spears are going to look and taste the best when they’re in season, Levinson says. Look for straight, crisp, green stalks. Levinson likes to blanch asparagus and add it to a salad or roast it to add to pasta.
- Baby carrots.We’re not talking about the kind you buy in a bag at the supermarket. These are true baby carrots sold with their green stems still attached. Look for carrots with a vibrant orange color and bright green stems that aren’t wilting. They’re great for roasting or steaming with the stems still on, Levinson says.
- Rhubarb.Spring also brings stalks of rhubarb. Choose red, crisp stalks for the best flavor. Rhubarb is very tart, Levinson says, and is often paired with strawberries to balance out that tartness in dishes such as strawberry-rhubarb crisp or compote.
- Garlic.Garlic is an important element for cooking, Levinson says, and you’ll be able to find fresh bulbs in the spring. Pass on garlic bulbs with green shoots coming out of them. It means they’re not fresh, she says.
- Fava beans.They take some work because you have to remove their pods by blanching them before cooking, but fava beans are delicious. Look for fava beans in crisp shells.
- Mint.Mint leaves start to grow abundantly in the spring and can be used to make tea, add to salads, or garnish desserts. Look for leaves that are a healthy green and not wilted.
Where to Find the Best Spring Seasonal Food
Try these tips for buying local, ultra-fresh produce in the spring:
- Frequent your farmers’ market.For the most part, farmers’ markets are one of the best ways to find fresh produce from local farms. If you’re not sure where to go, visit for a list of markets in your area.
- Check out roadside stands.It’s not uncommon to see local farmers setting up roadside stands to sell just-picked fruits and vegetables. And if you’re on a road trip, it’s a great idea to skip fast-food restaurants and keep your eye out for roadside stands, Levinson says.
- Consider joining a CSA.When you sign up for Community Supported Agriculture, also known as CSA or a farm share, you’ll get a box of seasonal vegetables every week directly from a local farm. Not only will your kitchen be stocked with locally grown produce all season long, you’ll also find yourself cooking with seasonal vegetables you don’t normally buy, Levinson says. Get a list of CSAs in your area at .
- Scour your supermarket.You may be able to find seasonal food at your local supermarket. Look for signs posted in the produce department or ask the produce manager. It helps to know what’s in season, Levinson says, because you can more easily spot what’s been shipped in from out of town.
- Grow it yourself.All you need is a small yard or a terrace to grow your own fresh fruits and vegetables from seed, Levinson says. If you can’t plant directly into the ground, use potting soil in a container that can be set out on a porch or terrace.
Healthy Recipes Using Spring Seasonal Food
Now that you’ve loaded up on delicious seasonal fruits and vegetables, here are some healthy recipes to try:
- Strawberries and YogurtSimply stir together 8 ounces of low-fat, plain yogurt and 1 cup of strawberries.
- Asparagus With Warm VinaigretteTake one pound of asparagus and snap off the woody bases and throw them away. Cook the spears in boiling water, covered, for 8 to 10 minutes until they are crisp-tender; drain. To make the vinaigrette, combine 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch with garlic powder and ground ginger to taste in a saucepan. Stir in 1/3 cup apricot nectar. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until the mixture becomes thick and bubbly, then cook and stir for 2 more minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar. Pour the vinaigrette over the cooked asparagus and toss gently to coat. Makes 4 servings as an appetizer or side dish.
- Grilled Herbed Corn on the CobPeel back the husks of 6 ears of corn, leaving the husks attached but exposing the corn. Remove and throw away the silks (the thin strands between the corn and the green husks). Soak the corn and husks in cold water for 5 minutes to prevent the husks from burning. Remove from the water, drain, and pat dry with paper towels. In a bowl, combine 3 tablespoons melted reduced-calorie margarine, 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh, finely chopped oregano (or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano or thyme), 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Brush evenly over the corn and cover the corn with the husks again, tying the tips with heavy string. Grill the corn, covered, over medium-hot coals (350 to 400 degrees) for 15 minutes or until tender, turning occasionally. Makes 6 servings.
Make your own medleys of spring seasonal foods based on availability in your area. The delicate flavors of seasonal fruits and vegetables make for delicious, light, and healthy meals.
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