By Carla Schuit RD, LDN, MPH
Entering into May I am cautiously optimistic that Mother Nature is finally committing to some warmer weather and sunny days. Spring and fall are my favorite seasons because they are a transition time not only for weather but for food as well. About this time of year I am ready to put away my hot chili and stew recipes and bring out the salads, light up the grills and freshen things up!
As we are planting our gardens for the summer keep an eye out for those spring fruits and vegetables as well. Choosing foods that are in season and at their peak freshness not only maximizes the flavor but also the nutrients available.
Below is a list of some of the great fruit and vegetables springing up!
Greens (collard/mustard/swiss chard)
Lettuce (endive/butter/red leaf)
Most of the foods listed you are familiar with but there may be a few that you aren’t and should definitely consider giving them a try.
Jackfruit- A tropical fruit that is sweet and dense much like a banana or plantain. It is rich in dietary fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, B-6, niacin, riboflavin and folic acid. It is also packed with potassium, magnesium, manganese, and iron! Similar to a pomegranate you will need to navigate some natural packaging but the fruit is worth it!
Lychee-A small, slightly sweet, white fruit found often in Asian dishes and desserts. It is rich in Vitamin C, potassium, copper and B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, niacin, and folate. It also contains Oligonol which is a polyphenol believed to have anti-oxidant properties improving blood flow and protecting the skin from UV rays.
Watercress- A small, peppery green found on salads and in the grocery store by the other greens. This little guy is a nutrient powerhouse! Jam packed with gluconasturtiin a compound believed to contain cancer preventing properties. It has more vitamin C than most fruits providing 72% of the recommended daily amount. As well as a powerful source of vitamin K, vitamin A, beta-carotene, lutein, copper, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus. Because it is packed with so much nutrition watercress has been credited with preventing osteoporosis, vitamin A deficiency and protecting against cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer. I know they say great things come in little packages but wow!
As always experiment, try new foods and eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Always wash your produce and remember the darker the color the more nutrient dense. Get out there and taste nature’s rainbow! In addition to the new myzone challenge starting up I would love to challenge everyone to try one to two new fruits or vegetables this month and share your experience! Farmers markets are also starting up this month which is a great place to find new and exciting foods!