Julie Whittington, RD

Healthy tips from a Registered Dietitian

Springtime fruits and vegetables a nutritious addition to a well-balanced diet

Happy Spring!  It is officially here.  With dreams of warmer weather and lots of sunshine finally coming true, we all can now relish in the pleasures of springtime.

Along with the many reasons to love this time of the year come the many foods to love.

For optimal health, we should all choose the freshest foods available to us.  Local foods are ideal, as they travel the least distance from farm to table.  However, in order to incorporate a wide variety of colorful, nutritious foods in our diets, it often is necessary to include not-so-local foods.  We are lucky to live in a nation that can provide year-round offerings of seasonal foods like berries, oranges and squashes, thus enabling us to reach our nutritional potential.

However, all of us can seek to choose seasonally appropriate produce, in order to best serve our local farmers and choose the freshest foods possible.  It also can enable us to be more mindful and thankful for the source of our foods, which can in turn make the eating experience more pleasurable and less stressful.

Additionally, if we consume foods that are at peak-ripeness and have travelled the shortest distance from farm to table, we will gain the highest level of phytonutrients from those foods, reduce a food’s exposure to pollutants (in transit) and hopefully enable farmers to use less chemicals on these foods (which might normally be used to extend shelf life of foods).

Challenge yourself to include many of these springtime fruits and vegetables listed below in your diet this spring.  Shy away from the same old routine.  Think of now as a time to do a spring cleaning of your food repertoire.  Maybe even go through your fridge, freezer and pantry and throw out expired food and donate unwanted food.

There is a great website called NC Farm Fresh, which provides information on local farms.  Visit http://www.ncfarmfresh.com/availability.asp for more information.  Here is a list of some of the best springtime foods to seek out from your local NC grocer/supplier:

  • Broccoli
  • Leafy greens
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Potatoes

Also visit http://www.cookinglight.com/food/in-season for seasonal recipes.  Consider things like pea and herb salads, steamed artichokes, salads topped with shaved fennel and sautéed asparagus as foods to bring into your routine this spring.

In addition to NC produce, also seek out other traditionally “in season” spring produce:

  • Apricots
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Carrots
  • Chives
  • Fava Beans
  • Fennel
  • Leeks
  • Mangoes
  • Morels (a type of mushroom)
  • Peas
  • Pineapples
  • Rhubarb
  • Watercress

Enjoying the flavors of healthful, in-season foods enables us to be more mindful about our eating and where our food comes from, in an effort to nourish ourselves well!

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