This year's unrelenting winter makes it feel like spring weather will never get here, but eventually there will be a new crop of nutrient-packed spring foods to boost your health and help you shrug off those winter doldrums.
Here's what should be showing up in your local market soon.
Artichokes California, which supplies 80 percent of the country's chokes, has a glut of them this year, thanks to that state's unseasonably warm winter, reports the Los Angeles Times. So savor the bounty. Artichokes (and especially artichoke hearts) are rich in magnesium, which helps build bones, and vitamin C, an immunity booster. Plus, they have as much heart-healthy potassium as a small banana. They're also high in antioxidants; the U.S. Department of Agriculture ranks them seven on its list of top 20 antioxidant-rich foods. How to enjoy: To save on time, microwave a whole artichoke, or try these bread-crumbed baked hearts.
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Asparagus Along with tulips and Easter baskets, fresh green asparagus is a sure sign spring is here. Asparagus spears are loaded with nutrients, including folate, which research indicates works with vitamin B12 to prevent cognitive decline and is a mood booster, too. What's more, asparagus is a good source of vitamins A, C, E and K, along with glutathione, a detoxifying substance that strengthens the immune system. How to enjoy: Try this easy, healthy take on asparagus au gratin.
Fava beans Favas, also called broad beans, are a springtime delicacy enjoyed the world over, especially in Mediterranean countries. They are protein powerhouses (13 grams of protein in a
cup) and a good source of iron, fiber and vitamins. Favas' big green pods resemble peapods on steroids. The smaller, thinner pods will contain the youngest, most tender beans. Some say the beans need to be peeled once they're removed from their pods (see how on thekitchn.com), but a recent Wall Street Journal story says that's unnecessary. How to enjoy: Prepare a fresh fava bean dip, or have favas with artichokes, peas and pasta in this superfood recipe.
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Green peas Spring's first, tender peas - emerald green and sweetest when young and fresh - are so good, you can eat them raw or cooked. And talk about nutrients: A cup of peas has more protein than a hard-boiled egg. Additionally, peas are high in heart-healthy, osteoporosis-fighting vitamin K, as well as vitamins A, B1, B6 and C. How to enjoy: Opt for a three-pea soup made with split peas, green peas and snow peas.
Arugula Do your eyes a favor and add some of this peppery-tasting green to your spring
salad. Also known as rocket, arugula is packed with vision-protecting lutein. Arugula is a cruciferous vegetable, meaning it's from the same family as kale, broccoli and cabbage, and full of fiber and antioxidants. It can be eaten raw in salads or used instead of basil for a spicier pesto. Its sharp flavor mellows when this green is cooked - you can wilt arugula like spinach and add it to pasta, soup, quiche and pizza. How to enjoy: Create an onion-and-arugula frittata or a salad with papaya (or mango) and arugula.
Photos: Artichoke and asparagus woogies1/iStock; fava beans dianazh/iStock; arugula MariusFM77/iStock
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