Spring has sprung, which means tons of in-season fruits and veggies are sprouting up at your local farmers’ market. While you may see some of them in your grocery store year-round, now is the ideal time to enjoy them. The benefits of eating seasonally can be huge—for your health and your taste buds—so take advantage. When you eat produce at its peak, you get the maximum flavor and nutritional benefits from your food, say experts.
Use these tips to liven up your plate with spring’s tastiest powerhouse plants:
These spears are most tender in early to mid spring. Filled with vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as fiber and protein, asparagus makes for one healthy bite. It is also a source of minerals like magnesium and potassium, which can help lower blood pressure
How to eat it: “Grilled asparagus is a super side,” says Tara Bench, food and entertaining expert at TaraTeaspoon.com. For maximum flavor, drizzle grilled asparagus with Italian vinaigrette, then top it with a little grated Parmesan and chopped basil.
These little root vegetables are packed with vitamin C. They’re also part of the cruciferous family of veggies (broccoli and cauliflower are members too), which means they contain substances that may protect against cancer.
How to eat it: Radishes add a nice spice and crunch to salads and dips. Chop them up and combine with avocado, cilantro, and lime, then sprinkle with salty Cotija cheese for a healthy homemade guacamole, says Bench.
Low in calories but high in nutrients, this leafy green is a very good source of vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, and potassium. It’s also heart-healthy, thanks to its high folate and fiber content.
How to eat it: Spinach is equally tasty served raw in a salad or sautéed in pasta dishes. Also try it blended into smoothies to sneak in extra fiber and nutrients. For a delicious lunch, Bench recommends an open-faced spinach melt: Steam spinach and squeeze out the excess water, then toss it with low-fat shredded Swiss cheese and a dash of salt and pepper. Pile on sliced baguettes and broil until melted.
Don’t let that spiky exterior scare you. Artichokes are loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They also contain disease-fighting polyphenols and inulin, which aids digestion.
How to eat it: If you enjoy them plain, steam whole artichokes for 30 minutes, peel off the leaves, and use your teeth to scrape away the fleshy part. Looking for a bit more flavor? Go for the hearts or opt for baby artichokes. “Sauté baby artichoke halves with a crushed garlic clove in olive oil until deep golden brown for a simple side dish,” says Bench. “Toss in some capers, lemon zest, and sea salt—and serve.”
Probably the most beloved berry, strawberries become juicy and ripe in late spring. Along with fiber and vitamins, they contain polyphenols and anti-inflammatories—munching on them may help fight heart disease and cancer.
How to eat it: Top off your morning cereal, layer them in a yogurt parfait, or blend them into your smoothies. Strawberries make just about every breakfast food better, but they’re surprisingly delicious on a steak too. “Fruity salsa is a genius condiment for grilled meats,” says Bench. Simply stir together diced strawberries, red onion, cilantro, and jalapeños with a dash of sugar and lime juice.