Spring is just around the corner so it’s time to look at foods grown in this beautiful blossoming season!
The Importance of Eating Seasonally
Seasonal fruits and vegetables are fresher, taste better, and are more nutritious than when eaten out of season. Yes, nowadays you can find more foods year round, but eating them when they are at their peak of freshness brings it to a whole new level.
Flavor is something that we can actually sense and taste the difference. Optimal flavor of fruits and vegetables are when picked fully ripen. That means they have gotten the chance to slowly ripen on the vine or tree in the sun for maximum flavor and color.
Nutrition value is something we don’t often think too much about when eating fruits and vegetables. We automatically think we are being healthy by choosing them, but did you know that the nutritional content changes depending what season they were produced in. Also, the longer these fruits and vegetables sit on the shelves the more nutrients and antioxidants they lose.
Environment is something else to consider when choosing to eat seasonal. Seasonal fruits and vegetables produced on local farms do not require long distance transportation. This can ensure we are protecting the environment as well as assuring we receive the best quality.
Community is a major contribution to eating seasonal. When we buy from the local growers not only are we supporting our community but we also have the opportunity to talk with the people who most likely raised and harvested the crops. This not only creates a connection with where our food came from but we are more aware of how and what was used to grow these crops.
Economically is last but definitely not least. When we buy seasonal, believe it or not, it is cheaper. The fruits and vegetables are typically at the peak of its supply therefore cost less to harvest and usually are grown in ample amounts.
Apricots are one of the smaller stone fruits but that doesn’t mean they aren’t attractive with a golden orange color and a slightly rosy blush to it. Their skin is velvety and smooth with a sweet but slightly tart and a juicy mouthfeel. To top it all off it is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and fiber.
Pineapples are a fun fruit with many nutritional values. It is a good source of fiber and vitamin C. The core although may be firmer and less sweet is actually edible and contain high levels of an enzyme called bromelain which is known to be an effective anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant. Pineapples can be used in many different ways such as in desserts or smoothies, it can be grilled to bring out more of its natural sweetness once its sugars begin to caramelize. It can even be made into salsa’s that pair well with seafood. (https://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/pineapple-salsa/ )
Strawberries that are fresh are just irresistible with their bright red color when ripe and juicy texture. They are an excellent source of antioxidants as well as vitamins A, C, E, and the B vitamins. They are delightful when eaten raw but the options here are endless. They can be used in desserts, made into jam, added to lemonade and drinks, and also go very well in salads. (https://ifoodreal.com/strawberry-spinach-salad/ )
Citrus such as grapefruits, oranges, tangerines, and lemon are well known for vitamin C but also carry many more essential nutrients like potassium, folate, calcium, and magnesium. You can use the zest or squeeze the juice or just enjoy them whole. Citruses also go very well in green salads or mix them with other fruits for a fruit salad.
Artichokes may be an intimidating vegetable but it is surely an interesting one. Surprisingly artichokes may be eaten raw and make great salads. They are most commonly prepared by steaming or even grilling them. They are an excellent choice as they carry a high number of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and folic acid. (https://healthyrecipesblogs.com/roasted-artichokes/ )
Asparagus whether green, purple, or white is a true sign of spring. Its flavor is mild and goes well with many dishes like fish, pasta, or salads. Try it grilled, roasted or steamed. Besides its versatility and delicious flavors it is a nutritionally balanced vegetable containing vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. (https://www.marthastewart.com/975835/fava-bean-recipes?slide=3410898 )
Collard Greens are assertive and acidic with some bitterness. Did you know though, that not everyone tastes that bitterness, it is based on a genetic predisposition. Collard greens are well known simmered or try them blanched for maximum nutrition retention and flavor. (http://divascancook.com/vegetarian-southern-collard-greens-recipe-healthy/ )
Fava bean pods are thick with a cottony interior which holds the bright green beans. Their flavor is sweet, mild, and grassy reflective of spring. Fava beans are very adaptable; they can be added to salads or pureed into soups, or a try simple marination to shine on its own. (https://dedemed.com/mediterranean/green-fava-beans/)
Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable from the same family as beets and spinach. They vary in color but the flavor does not differ. The leaves are tender with a slight bitterness to it. It cooks quickly sautéed or braised and you can even enjoy it raw in salads. (https://theviewfromgreatisland.com/rainbow-chard-salad/ )
Peas are a vibrant green color and versatile to be used in many different ways. They are sweet and tender to be eaten raw, or blanched and pureed to make dips or spreads. They will complement pasta or risotto and can even be made into creamy soups. (https://toriavey.com/toris-kitchen/spring-pea-guacamole/ )
Guest Blog Post by our Intern, Safa Elzein!