Spring clean your menu

Spring is in full swing! The sun is shining, flowers are blooming and new crops are growing! After perusing the diverse list of “Spring Fruits and Vegetables” (see below) I found a few unique ones to add to my repertoire:

Chayote Squash

This light green squash is about the size and shape of a large pear. It has a very mild, cucumber-like flavor and a watery, crunchy consistency. The main growing regions for chayote are Mexico and parts of Central and South America. It is popular in Latin American cuisine. This is a great high water/low calorie food, and a good source of vitamin C and several B vitamins. My family received chayote squash in a Home Chef meal kit a few weeks ago, and we made a delicious arugula, chickpea and chayote squash bowl with it. Here’s the recipe: https://www.homechef.com/meals/chimichurri-sweet-potato-bowl

Cherimoya

This cone-shaped fruit is native to Central and South America. It has a green, leathery, bumpy exterior, with smooth, white flesh on the inside. I don’t think I’ve ever tried this one, but I am definitely going to look for it in the market because it sounds delicious! According to the Fruit and Veggies — More Matters website, “the flavor is a combination of papaya, banana, mango, passion fruit and pineapple, and it has a pudding-like texture.” Cherimoya is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, niacin, potassium, phosphorus and thiamin. Check out this link: Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Cherimoya for ideas.

Fiddlehead Ferns

This is a new one to me! I looked it up and found out that it is the curled greens from a young fern, found in the New England area and eaten as a vegetable. Apparently they have a flavor and texture similar to asparagus and they are high in antioxidants and many vitamins and minerals, including: vitamins A and C, iron, magnesium, niacin, potassium, and phosphorus. Sounds like another good one to try! (1,2)

Jackfruit

This Asian tropical fruit is the “largest tree-borne fruit in the world,” reaching a size of 3 feet long and a weight of 80 pounds! The jackfruit you find in the U.S. markets will likely be much smaller, however. The fruit is oblong in shape and has a yellow or green color on the outside with yellow, bulby flesh on the inside. It has a sweet, banana-like flavor. Jackfruit is high in fiber, vitamins A and C, some B vitamins and minerals, such as copper, iron, magnesium, manganese and potassium. (1,3)

Lychee

This is another popular Asian fruit, but it is much smaller — about the size of a walnut. I bought fresh lychee for the first time last spring and it was a hit! My kids and I took a package of lychee to share with our friends at the beach and it got devoured. And it sparked a debate on how to pronounce it. Turns out that I had been pronouncing it wrong for years! Did you know it’s pronounced LEE-chee, not LIE-chee?! This delicious snack is high in vitamin C, copper, potassium and antioxidants. (1,4)

Morel Mushrooms

This is one funky looking ‘shroom. It looks a lot like a honeycomb and has a chewy texture. Sauté it in some olive oil and garlic for a unique side dish. Just don’t eat them raw, or they could make you sick! This fungus is high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B, D, E and K, copper, iron, manganese and phosphorus.

Purple or White Asparagus

How many colors of asparagus have you tried? I love it when my veggies come with color options! The variety of hues mean a variety of phytonutrients and health benefits and it just makes your meal look more interesting. Sometimes the flavors are a bit different too. I find white asparagus to be a bit milder than the purple and green varieties. No matter what the color, asparagus is a good source of vitamins A, C, E, K, chromium and folate. (1,6)

 

That is just a small sampling of the great variety of spring fruits and vegetables to choose from! Get inspired by this list of Spring Fruits and Vegetables from the “Fruit and Veggies more matters” website. This website has it all – including tips for selection and storage of fruits and veggies, their nutritional benefits, preparation tips and recipes!

Looking for more spring produce recipes?  Here you go!…

 

References:

  1. Fruit and Veggies – More Matters. What’s In Season? Spring. Accessed April 27, 2017.
  2. California Rare Fruit Growers. https://www.crfg.org. Accessed April 27, 2017.
  3. Specialty Produce. Fiddlehead Ferns. Accessed April 27, 2017.
  4. Authority Nutrition. Lychees 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits. Accessed April 27, 2017.
  5. Specialty Produce. Morel Mushrooms. Accessed April 27, 2017.
  6. Eating Well. 5 Powerful Health Benefits of Asparagus You Probably Didn’t Know. Accessed April 27, 2017.

 

Jen Kim, RDN

About Jen Kim, RDN

Jennifer is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). She completed her Bachelor's of Science degree at the University of Illinois, and holds a Master's Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from San Diego State University. Jennifer also has a Certification in Adult Weight Management. She has worked in hospitals as a Clinical Dietitian, done obesity research and worked as a Corporate Dietitian for a national weight loss company. Jennifer is passionate about helping people live healthier lives. She believes in a balanced approach to nutrition - where all foods can fit - centered around a natural, plant-based diet. Jen lives in San Diego with her husband and two boys - where she enjoys playing soccer and tennis, hiking, playing on the beach, playing board games and shooting pool.

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