Spring Produce Spotlight: The ABCs of Spring Produce

Spring is the season for celebrating youth. There’s something about blooming flowers that taps into our inner child and makes us want to run through rain showers or lay in the grass on a sunny day. In honor of your inner child, just think “ABC” when you’re writing your grocery list this spring and use these seasonal produce ideas to create delicious meals.

A is for Arugula, Artichokes, and Asparagus

These are three mean, green, healthy vegetables in spring. Don’t let arugula’s small leaves fool you; this leafy green is a good source of calcium and is really high in vitamins A, C, and K. Artichokes look like they’re encased in armor, and actually they are pretty good at fighting for your health: artichoke hearts are ranked number 7 on the USDA’s top antioxidant list. They’re also good sources of fiber and vitamins C and K. As for asparagus, it’s going to provide anti-inflammatory nutrients, beta-carotene, and vitamin E.

Now, how can you combine these healthy greens into one great meal? One option is to create an entrée-style salad. This recipe for Asparagus and Artichoke Salad from the Food Network calls for watercress, but you can easily substitute or add arugula instead. Then there’s this Spring Asparagus, Artichoke and Arugula Salad  from Gourmandinthekitchen.com that will make you hungry just looking at the pictures. And finally, if you like your veggies grilled, placed between two slices of bread, and topped with cheese, any one of these spring powerhouses can easily be added to a grilled cheese with a little fresh cracked pepper.

 B is for Beets and Bok Choy

You can’t beat beets! These little gems pack a double punch as you can get nutrients from both the beet itself and from the leafy green beat tops (called beet greens). Beets contain iron, folate, and vitamins A, B, and C. They’re good for liver health and can even lower your blood pressure.

Bok choy, another great spring seasonable vegetable, contains 100% of your daily requirement for vitamin A and nearly all your recommended amount of vitamin C.

Let’s “C” how we can put these two “B” veggies together for an “A” plus meal. As always, we can create an amazing salad. For a warm salad, try this one on Allrecipes.com that combines Boy Choy, beets, and feta as the main ingredients. Looking for something to serve as an entrée? Try making this Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad from Food Network.

 C is for Carrots and Chives

Sunny orange and bright green – serving carrots and chives together is like bringing the outdoors onto your kitchen table.

We all know that carrots are good for your eyesight (thank you, beta-carotene), but did you know they are also a good source of fiber? Chives are skinny little veggies, but they are considered “nutrient dense.” They contain vitamins A and C, plus small amounts of potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

Carrots and chives can be paired as a colorful and nutritious side dish in ways that range from really easy to still pretty easy. For the easiest method, try this three step recipe from Foodandwine.com for Roasted Carrot with Chives or try this one with Rainbow Carrots from Food Network. Feeling fancy? Cook up Jaime Oliver’s Chardonnay Glazed Carrots with Chive Butter. Feeling feisty? Then you might be in the mood for The Pioneer Woman’s Whiskey Glazed Carrots.

Want to add a touch of whimsy to your meal? Give your carrot slices (either sticks or round medallions) a fun look with the Crisp Wavy Knife. Those nooks and crannies are perfect for holding the whiskey glaze in place!

Putting It All Together

If you’d like to have an ABC spring meal, start with a beets and bok choy salad, dish up the carrots and chives as a side dish, and serve fancy grilled cheese packed with asparagus and arugula as an entrée. And because you’ve worked in your A, B, and C, you deserve a little sweet treat as a reward. It just so happens that strawberries are in season, so cap your meal with Ina Garten’s recipe for Strawberry Tarts. Your inner child will thank you.

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