If you’re like millions of people, you made New Years’ Resolutions to eat healthier this year. Most of those millions have long since forgotten about those sterling resolutions.
However, it’s not too late to jumpstart your eating resolutions. And spring is the perfect time to do so, because you have (or will soon have) spring produce for fresh and nutritious food options.
Best Spring Produce Items to Eat Seasonally Now
1. Asparagus – a nutrient-dense veggie that’s high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Asparagus is also a good source of antioxidants. It can be prepared many ways – including roasted, grilled, steamed, as a pizza topping, or as a creamy soup.
2. Strawberries – sweet juicy berries high in vitamin C, antioxidants, and fisetin. Strawberries can be eaten raw or used in smoothies, salads, and desserts.
3. Artichokes – a versatile veggie that can be boiled, steamed, roasted, or used as a pizza topping. They’re high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and are a good source of antioxidants.
4. Peas – a nutritious and versatile vegetable that’s high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Peas can be consumed raw, steamed, or added to dishes such as soups, stews, and salads.
5. Radishes – A crunchy and spicy vegetable high in vitamin C and antioxidants. Radishes can be eaten raw or cooked. They’re a great crunchy addition to salads and sandwiches.
6. Rhubarb – a tart vegetable (yes, really… it’s not a fruit!) that’s often used in desserts such as pies and crisps. Rhubarb is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals and is also a good source of antioxidants. Keep it healthier by cutting the sugar in half.
7. Lettuce – leafy greens like cool weather. Lettuce contains many vitamins and minerals and make for a very low calorie bowl of food. (Note: It’s the dressing that contains the calories.)
Eating seasonal produce can help you eat more nutritiously and locally, thus improving your health and reducing your carbon footprint.
And you can’t beat the fresh flavor of eating produce that was just picked yesterday, instead of nearly a month ago as may often be the case in the grocery store!
Make the Most of Spring Produce
Since eating seasonal produce is a great strategy for health, weight management, and eating locally, here’s how to make the most of the opportunity.
1. Check out your local farmer’s markets.
They offer a variety of fresh, locally grown produce that’s in season. It not only supports local farmers, but also ensure you’re getting the freshest produce available – not produce that spent a week or more on a truck getting to your area.
2. Your grocery store.
Grocery stores may also have some locally grown produce. The operative word here is “some.” Or “may.”
3. Plan your meals around seasonal produce.
Look up recipes that use the spring produce items named above.
For best results, search for: “best asparagus recipes” or “asparagus recipes.” If you have other leftover items to use up, search for “best asparagus and _____ recipes” or “best recipes using asparagus and ___.”
4. Preserve your fresh produce for all-year use.
Got a favorite produce item from the spring season? Freeze or preserve it and enjoy it all year long. It probably won’t be quite as good as fresh. But it’ll surely beat what you can buy in January in the frozen foods section of your store.
Freezing foods is generally the easiest way to preserve. Some foods lend themselves well to canning (such as in canned tomatoes, which are not a spring food, incidentally).
If you have a dehydrator, experiment with drying your food to conserve on freezer space and costs.
Buy Organic If You Can… Especially the Dirty Dozen Foods
Buy your produce organic if availability and budget allow.
Some foods are riskier to eat conventional than others, since some are sprayed with more pesticides, and more frequently.
Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a list of their “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean 15” vegetables and fruits.
Here are the EWG “Clean Fifteen”… which are generally less-frequently sprayed. However, a few of them tend to be genetically modified. To avoid that risk, buy those organic.
1. Avocados 9. Kiwi
2. Sweet corn* 10. Cabbage
3. Pineapple 11. Mushrooms
4. Onions 12. Mangoes
5. Papaya* 13. Sweet potatoes
6. Sweet peas 14. Watermelon
7. Asparagus 15. Carrots
8. Honeydew (melon)
*Some sweet corn, papaya, and summer squash sold in the U.S. is grown from genetically modified seeds. Buy organic varieties of these if you want to avoid genetically modified produce.
The “Dirty Dozen” list is comprised of crops that tend to be treated with the highest volume and variety of pesticides. They’re the most important to buy organic if you’re trying to stretch your budget.
3. Kale, collard, and mustard greens
9. Bell & hot peppers
12. Green Beans
More than 90% of strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, and cherries sampled tested positive for two or more pesticides.
Blueberries and green beans were new additions to the 2023 “Dirty Dozen” list because of residues of acephate, a toxic pesticide that was banned more than 10 years ago.
Another BIG Reason to Eat Seasonal Produce
Focusing on eating produce from your own garden or the farmer’s markets will also naturally help you cut down on processed foods.
Research late last year found that the more you eat processed foods, the greater your risk of Alzheimer’s.
Processed foods are also linked to a number of health issues including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and more.
What’s So Bad about Processed Foods? A Lot!
Processed foods are:
1. High in added sugars – often very high amounts of added sugars, which can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and more.
2. High in unhealthy fats. Processed foods often contain trans fats, which increase the risk of heart disease. Not only that, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find foods that don’t contain a variety of bad fats like soybean and canola oils, as well as a variety of other damaging seed oils. Read our article about Trans-Fats!
3. Low in nutrients. Processed foods are low in nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and fiber… which can lead to nutrient deficiencies and downstream health effects.
4. Contain preservatives and additives not naturally occurring in food. Many of these additives have been linked to health problems, such as headaches, allergic reactions, and hyperactivity.
5. May increase your risk of cancer. Some studies suggest that processed foods may increase the risk of certain types of cancer, such as colorectal cancer.
6. May be linked to depression and other mental health issues, according to some studies.
So limit your consumption of processed foods and instead focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods. You’ll improve your overall health and energy, and reduce your risk of chronic diseases.
And believe it or not, it doesn’t take that long to start developing a taste and preference for local produce.
Isn’t it time to pledge to eat more “real” foods this spring, and carry on the habit for the summer and fall too?
With all the amazing recipes (along with their ratings and suggestions) available online today, you should be able to find many new favorites for preparing produce that you and your family will love. Get started today.
Episode #61 – How to Turn on your Healthy Genes for Best Health Today.
Why did her father succumb to lung cancer at age 55… and his best friend who then married her mother did all the same (bad) things and lived another 30 years?
In this podcast, Ultra Botanica’s CEO Adam Payne discusses this mystery with Dr. Dunn… and what she discovered when she did a deep dive into the medical literature to find out.
This is highly relevant to you too!
What are YOUR genes telling you? How can you control their expression so you can enjoy a healthy long life?
Watch the video on YouTube now . Prefer audio only? Listen on Spotify now .