Spring is the perfect time to break out the rubber gloves and give your house a fresh cleaning! Why not take advantage of the cleaning spree, and tackle your diet too?! Whether you’re looking to regain momentum on those New Year’s resolutions, or just looking for fresh new ideas, here are few healthy eats for this Spring.
ARTICHOKES: Don’t be afraid of those pointy leaves! The artichoke is a beautiful vegetable loaded with Vitamin C, Fiber, Potassium and Folate. The bottom of the artichoke is called the heart, that’s the tasty part. The entire heart is only 26 calories! A fresh pick for your waistline, considering how nutritionally dense, yet calorically light this veggie is.
- How to pick: Look for heavy and thick leaves (known as scales).
- Food Tip: Steam and add on top of baked chicken, with a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of black pepper.
CARROTS: Nothing like chomping down on a freshly picked carrot from your garden, or a local vendor at the farmer’s market. Carrots get their orange hue from a nutrient called Beta Carotene. Beta Carotene helps with eye function. Bug’s Bunny’s favorite food also contains an impressive amount of Fiber, Iron, Potassium, B Vitamins, and only 70 calories per cup!
- Food Tip: Toss carrots with ½-1 T of olive oil then place on a cookie sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes at 425, rotating often so not to burn them. A side dish perfect for a juicy fillet of salmon.
ASPARAGUS: Not the most popular vegetable at the farmer’s market, but definitely one of my favorites! Give this vegetable another try because it’s certainly a winner for our health. Asparagus is loaded with Iron, Vitamin C and B Vitamins such as Folate.
- Fun Food Fact: Asparagus is a member of the Lily family (type of flower). It’s also closely related to garlic, onions, and leeks.
- Food Tip: Asparagus should easily snap in half and sound ‘crisp’ when doing so. Use the top half to steam and add to a whole grain pasta dish. I personally love a quinoa, and whole grain pasta blend with steamed asparagus, white beans, peas, a sprinkle of feta and lemon zest. A quick, simple, and flavorful spring dish.
LEEKS: Known as a “poor man’s asparagus”, this is a huge winner for health. It might be unfamiliar, but I challenge you to give this veggie a try next time you’re at the market or store. Leeks contain what’s known as phytochemicals. This means there are naturally occurring components that may actually help fend off certain cancers. In addition, there’s only 32 calories in 1 cup and a burst of Fiber and Iron.
- Food Tip: Chop the entire plant, omitting the very end of the stem. Toss in a stir fry, add to a salad, roast and add to a marinara sauce, or grill whole then chop add to a homemade grilled pizza.
STRAWBERRIES: There’s nothing quite like picking fresh berries and eating them right from the bush. A serving of strawberries, 8 berries or 1 cup, actually contains more Vitamin C than an orange!
- How to pick: When you’re purchasing the berries from a vendor, it’s best to pick up the container and smell. They should smell very sweet. The container should also feel slightly heavy, indicating the berries are juicy.
- Food Tip: Delicious on their own or in a dish. I love a hearty piece of whole grain toast with a smear (1T) of low fat cream cheese, sliced berries on top, and a sprinkling of orange zest. Sometimes, I add fresh basil from my garden for even more flavor. It’s fun as a snack or a healthier app at your next spring party with friends.
Grab your shopping basket, farmer’s market tote, and desire to start cleaning because these produce picks are sure to add flavor, color, and fresh nutrients to help clean up your diet this Spring!