Spring Cleaning, With Your Fork

Try these eight seasonal fruits and vegetables to brighten your day and freshen up your diet.  Spring has never tasted so good!

This funny-looking vegetable serves up a great dose of nutrition – it’s a good source of vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and fiber (6 grams per artichoke). All that for just 60 calories!

Artichokes may seem intimidating if you’ve never prepared them. Don’t fret – it’s simple. Just steam them in a large pot until their outer leaves can easily be plucked off. See here for more details, and here for all-you-can-eat artichoke recipes.

According to the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board, asparagus is the leading supplier of folic acid among vegetables. Folic acid is necessary for cell health and helps protect against liver disease. And talk about low calorie – they run at a mere 4 calories per spear. More info here.

Sweet Cherries
Cherries are high in fiber and potassium and remain low in calories despite their sweet name – what’s not to love? Snack on 1 cup for only 100 calories, or dish out this fresh cherry pie for under 300 calories per slice.

Fava Beans
A ½ cup serving of cooked fava beans provides 95 calories, 7 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fiber. They also offer key nutrients such as copper, manganese, and phosphorus. Just beware – canned fava beans have 500 milligrams of sodium in 1 cup, while the fresh variety has only 20 milligrams. Check out this appetizer recipe to incorporate the tasty legume into your diet.

Morel Mushrooms
Nope, that’s not a pine cone on your plate – it’s a morel! These spongy mushrooms have a honeycomb texture and nutty, earthy flavor. Just make sure to cook them thoroughly – as the raw kind can make us sick. Did you miss fresh morel season? Try out this mouth-watering recipe, which uses dried morels.  Morels are a great way to add flavor without breaking the calorie bank – 1 cup = 20 calories.

A 1 cup serving of radishes contain 20 calories and about 30% of your daily vitamin C needs. Radishes also contain fluoride to keep teeth strong and cavity-free. Radishes make a great topping for salads, sandwiches, or tacos. Impress your friends with this unique nectarine and radish salsa.

• Rhubarb
This vegetable often disguises itself as a fruit – but the possibilities of cooking with rhubarb are endless. To top it off, rhubarb is a good source of vitamin C, potassium, and manganese. Check out this link  for everything from rhubarb sauce to wine!

Last, but not least – spring’s favorite fruit. Just 1 cup meets 100% of your daily vitamin C needs. For the freshest, sweetest flavor buy locally grown strawberries. Toss into smoothies, salads, or cereal. Or combine strawberries and rhubarb together for this jam.

*Not all fruits/vegetables listed above are grown locally in New England in the spring, but all are now available for purchase.

Tara Linitz is a Registered Dietitian at MGH with a passion for overall health, wellness, and disease prevention. She’s currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science and Public Health to further advance her background in sports nutrition.

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Our Be Fit Nutritionists are comprised of dietetic interns studying at Massachusetts General Hospital. During their internship, they receive training on acute care nutrition, ambulatory and community nutrition, food service systems management, and research. Their comprehensive work is done in collaboration with registered dietitians.

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