Add Some Spring to your Plate

By Reshma Adwar, Staff Writer

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This season try adding asparagus and strawberries to your diet. Photo by Reshma Adwar

Reshma Adwar is a dietetics student that returned to school after a career as a Physical Therapist. She is interested in nutrition because she believes in preventing chronic diseases. Her career goal is to combine her expertise in nutrition and exercise to develop public health programming and policy.

Spring is a time of rejuvenation, and that includes freshening up our plates. The hardier fruits and vegetables of winter give way to the verdant, bright, crisp produce of spring. As the weather gets warmer in New Jersey, local farms begin serving up the bounty of spring. Here are some fruits and vegetables to look out for at your local grocery store or farmer’s market this spring and some reasons why they are healthy additions to your plate.

Asparagus
Asparagus is very high in vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting, and folate, which is necessary for metabolism. It is a very good source of fiber, which helps regulate digestion and keeps you fuller longer. The high amount of fiber designates asparagus as an excellent prebiotic, which is important for a healthy gut. Asparagus also contain antioxidants which help fight damage to our cells. Try asparagus steamed whole with a squeeze of lemon juice or chopped up in an omelet.

Spring Peas
Spring peas are very high in vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting, vitamin B1, which is crucial in energy metabolism and nerve function, and manganese which is needed for antioxidant protection. Peas also contain protein, and when combined with grains such as rice or corn, give our bodies all the protein building blocks they need. Spring peas are a good source of antioxidants which help fight damage to our cells. Try them sautéed with garlic and tossed with whole wheat pasta.

Strawberries
Strawberries are very high in vitamin C, which is essential for proper bone formation and joint health. They are also full of manganese, which is needed for antioxidant protection. They have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Strawberries are delicious eaten raw. Also try them spooned over yogurt with a little drizzle of honey.

Spinach
Spinach is incredibly high in vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting, vitamin A, which is needed for vision and immune function, manganese, which is needed for antioxidant protection, folate, which is necessary for metabolism, magnesium, which is critical for bone structure and nerve and muscle function, and iron, which is critical in delivering oxygen throughout our bodies and for immune function. Spinach grows incredibly well in the temperate weather of spring, so the best time to eat it is now before summertime. Add spinach to soups or use it as a base for a salad. The best way to get the most iron from spinach is to squeeze a little lemon or lime on top.

If you are new to eating seasonally, spring is a great time to start. There is a lot more variety in produce offerings than in winter, so there is a lot more to choose from and experiment with. If you are not sure what to choose, head over to a farmer’s market and ask the farmer or a fellow customer. Produce grown in season generally has been allowed to fully ripen before it is sold and is often times more fresh. It also has retained more nutrients than fruits and vegetables not in season.

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