Spring is Here - Grocery Shop for the Season!
It’s finally April and the cold weather is starting to dissipate. It’s also the time of year that a lot of our favorite fruits and vegetables start coming back into season. This spring, take advantage of the fresh asparagus, artichokes, green beans, and more.
Read on to learn more about the benefits of buying seasonal produce and check out our spring produce guide. Plus we’ll share dozens of meal ideas to show you how tasty spring produce can give your meal plan a nutritious boost.
What do we mean when we say that a fruit or vegetable is “in season”?
When a fruit or vegetable is in season, it is the time of year that a crop ripens and is harvested for people to eat. Unless there is a problem with the crop, it is the time of year when a fruit or vegetable is most readily available.
Want to get more for your money? Buying in season often helps! Prices usually come down when a fruit or vegetable is in season. In addition, the quality of the produce (taste, texture, freshness, etc.) is at its best.
When you buy produce that is out of season (for example, buying berries in the winter), you are likely buying food that has been shipped hundreds or even thousands of miles. It is usually more expensive, less environmentally-friendly, and the quality not as good.
Your Guide to Spring Produce
Below is a list of vegetables and fruits that are typically at their peak during the spring months. Look for them next time you’re at the grocery store! Remember that we suggest filling half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, and a variety of non-starchy vegetables are available in the spring. We've marked them below with an asterisk (*).
- Asparagus (green, purple, and white)*
- Belgian Endive*
- Butter Lettuce*
- Collard Greens*
- Fava Beans
- Green Beans*
- Morel Mushrooms*
- Mustard Greens*
- Snow peas*
- Swiss Chard*
You should know that seasonality can differ slightly depending on the region where you live. In addition to the list above, there are many fruits and vegetables that are readily available the entire year – spring included! Many mushrooms, carrots, garlic, onions, beets, lemons, oranges, bananas, and avocados fall into this category.
Eat More Seasonal Produce – Meal Ideas for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks!
Not familiar with some of the fruits and veggies listed above? Wondering how you can work them into a healthy meal that also tastes good? Check out the ideas below for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
- Top whole grain waffles, pancakes, or a bowl of unsweetened cereal with freshly sliced strawberries.
- Having whole wheat toast and eggs? Add a side of fresh cherries or a couple of apricots (fresh or dried) to your meal.
- Stir some diced pineapple into plain non-fat Greek yogurt to add just the right amount of natural sweetness. You can stir in some chopped pecans as well for more protein and some healthy fats.
- Do you prefer a breakfast that you can grab and go? Throw together a smoothie with plain non-fat yogurt or skim milk, ½ a banana, and some fresh mango. Add some ground flaxseed for some heart-healthy omega-3’s.
- If you prefer a hardy breakfast, try preparing our Asparagus Frittata or Crustless Asparagus and Pepper Mini Quiches.
At Lunch or Dinner:
- Slice up and mix together some mango, strawberries, bananas, and pineapple for a tropical fruit salad. Serve it as a side or even a dessert.
- Make a side salad with a mix of fresh spring greens! Include butter lettuce, spinach, and watercress. Top your salad with sliced radishes, tomatoes, mushrooms, and cucumber and toss with your favorite light dressing. If you want to make it a full meal, add some roasted chicken or glazed salmon.
- For something different, try making a broccoli salad. Add some raisins, shredded carrots, and red pepper. Toss the veggies with a dressing made with white wine vinegar, light mayonnaise, and lemon juice.
- Stir fry collard greens or Swiss chard with onions, mushrooms, and garlic in a small amount of olive oil. Add some toasted pine nuts and have it as a side with fish filets and a whole wheat roll.
- Throw together a stir-fry dish using snow peas, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, and even some pineapple if you’d like. Serve it over brown rice or quinoa.
- Grill up some tilapia and flavor with fresh-squeezed lime. Cut up tilapia and serve in low-carb tortillas. Top your tilapia tacos with some butter lettuce, tomatoes, and non-fat plain Greek yogurt (a healthy substitute for sour cream).
- Make a grain and vegetable salad that features spring produce. Use whole grain barley or quinoa and add artichokes hearts, broccoli florets, blanched asparagus, and reduced-fat feta cheese. Toss the salad in a small amount of light champagne vinaigrette. Let the salad sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the ingredients to marinate.
- Instead of using a tortilla wrap, make lettuce wraps with butter lettuce leaves. Use them to make lunch wraps with tuna salad or deli turkey. You could also try our Black Bean Mango Lettuce Wraps for a side or appetizer.
- Add some butter lettuce, spinach, or watercress to any lunch sandwich to add extra crunch and nutrition. Or, try a salad for a meal such as our Power Lunch Salad.
- Spinach and other greens also go great in soups like our Sausage and White Bean Soup or our Tomato Basil Soup with Chicken.
At Snack Time:
- Pack some fresh snow peas or broccoli florets to munch on. Dip them in fat-free ranch dressing or hummus.
- Mix some fresh strawberries with light yogurt.
- Cherries are easy to transport and make a good “grab and go” snack. Just be sure to bring a paper towel or a plastic baggie for the pits.
- Make a fresh mango salsa with mango, red onion, green pepper and black beans. Use it as a dip for baked tortilla chips. You can also try our authentic Mango and Tomato Salsa recipe.
- Dice up a serving of pineapple. Mix with 4 ounces of low-fat cottage cheese for a sweet and salty snack.
- Belgian endive leaves are extremely low in carbohydrates and are great for dipping. Try one of our favorite dips: Avocado-Cucumber Dip , Sweet Onion, White Bean, and Artichoke Dip, and Quick Chickpea Dip.
by Chris Smith
Looking for inspiration to cook more healthy meals at home? This cookbook offers 125 tasty recipes that feature fresh, seasonal foods for all times of the year.