Clean up any lingering winter diet disasters by adding a few of the following spring delights to your daily diet.
Nicknamed “The Food of Kings,” this vegetable boasts a royal showing of folate, iron, B vitamins, vitamin C, and fiber. Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties are abundant in these crisp stalks that can be grilled, roasted, stir-fried, sautéed, or eaten raw in salads. Look for asparagus with firm, thin stems, and use within 2-3 days of purchasing. For optimal freshness, store asparagus in the refrigerator with the ends wrapped in a damp paper towel or upright with water at the base and a plastic bag over the tips.
• LEAFY GREENS
Rev up your salad swagger and keep boredom at bay by using many different varieties of lettuce in your salads. Boston, bibb, arugula, mache, mesclun, and watercress are just a few to try. Channel your inner Popeye and reach for spinach, a dark, leafy green that’s packed with vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, carotenoids, and fiber. Spinach has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits, and helps in maintaining cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and bone health. Create a nutrient dense side dish with a quick sauté of spinach, garlic, and olive oil, or throw it in the juicer for a refreshing cocktail.
Strawberries are bursting with vitamin C, polyphenols, phytonutrients, potassium, and fiber, and they can provide big benefits in the way of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cardiovascular support. Add strawberries to green salads, protein smoothies, or enjoy them in a fresh fruit mix. Purchase organic and locally grown strawberries when available, and consume them within two days of purchase to maximize their nutritional benefits.
Although cherry season is short (typically late spring to mid-summer), the flavorful fruit yields a long list of health benefits, including cardiovascular, anti-inflammatory, and sleep related. These little red powerhouses pack a punch of fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, flavonoids, and carotenoids. While found in both sweet and tart varieties, tart cherries have more benefits for athletes recovering from training. Recent studies have shown that tart cherry juice helps decrease post-exercise joint pain and muscle soreness, leading to faster recovery times and decreased symptoms of muscle damage. Add fresh/frozen cherries or dried tart cherries to high protein Greek-style yogurt, chicken salad, quinoa dishes, or into snack mixes.
This firm, slightly sweet fish can troll the cold waters of the ocean for up to 40 years and grow as large as 700 pounds, although the average is closer to 50 pounds. This big boy of the flounder family is an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, magnesium, and B vitamins. Its nutritional profile offers cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory benefits, cancer protection, and support to brain function.
HERB ROASTED HALIBUT AND ASPARAGUS
• ½ pound fresh asparagus, woody ends cut off
• ¾ cup grape tomatoes, halved
• fresh herbs of choice (basil, rosemary, thyme, chives, etc.)
• Two 6-ounce halibut fillets
• ½ tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
• juice of ½ fresh lemon
• sea salt and black pepper to taste
• Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
• Lay asparagus spears evenly in a baking dish and top with grape tomato halves and fresh herbs.
• Lay the halibut fillets over the vegetables and drizzle with oil and lemon juice.
• Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.
• Bake 18-20 minutes (uncovered) or until the fish flakes with a fork.
• Serve with a mixed green salad and quinoa or brown rice.
Seasonal foods will vary depending on where you live. For detailed information on your specific area of the country, check out websites such as sustainabletable.org and eatwellguide.org or make a visit to a nearby farmers market and see what your local growers are bringing to the table.