It's that awesome time of year when fresh spring fruits and vegetables are making their way to the produce aisles and Farmer's markets are opening back up in some parts of the country. Some of our favorite picks of the season are available year round, and others come and go as quick as the season. Some of the more unique picks to appear on the list of fresh spring produce include:
Bitter melon – rich in Vitamin C and supports healthy blood sugar control. Since it certainly is bitter, as the name suggests, bitter melon is best prepared by first removing the seeds and tough core, then blanching in boiling water for 3 minutes. It can then be stuffed, or added to a stir fry or curry dish.
Ramps – Part of the onion and garlic family, ramps are in high demand in culinary hubs like New York City. Ramps are actually considered a delicacy and part of their allure may be that availability is challenging. Cultivation and harvest of ramps is even considered endangered in parts of the Northeast. Ramps can be used raw or cooked much like leeks.
Purple and White (and Green) Asparagus – Most asparagus varieties have a similar taste, and though white asparagus does contain some vitamin C, we always choose green or purple for their superior nutritional benefits. Purple asparagus has higher sugar and lower fiber content than green asparagus. Green asparagus is a plentiful source of antioxidants including the queen of all antioxidants, glutathione. Asparagus is also an excellent source of vitamin K, folate, copper, selenium, vitamin B2, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Our recommendation: Stick to the green.
Belgian Endive – Sometimes known as chicory in the United States, endive contains B2, BI, K and C and has been shown to benefit skin health, digestion, heart and liver health, and help prevent constipation. It is awesome served up as an appetizer with a combination of chopped walnuts, crumbled feta and a drizzle of honey or balsamic vinaigrette on the end of each leaf.
Watercress - Watercress is rich in antioxidants, vitamin K, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, lutein, and minerals like calcium and magnesium, making this peppery green menu worthy! Create a watercress salad or add watercress to soups and sandwiches.