After months of little but imported produce in the grocery stores, it’s nearly time to begin seeing new items raised closer to home in the bins. Many fruits and vegetables begin showing up in stores as early as March, depending on where you live. Take advantage of this bounty and be on the lookout for them. Also, they can give your body the goodies needed to shake off winter blues.
Honeydews. These melons can be sweet and juicy or hard, wooden and tasteless. The selection of ripe honeydews is the key. They begin showing up in stores later this month and are filled with lots of antioxidant vitamins. Look for melons that feel heavy and with skins that bounce back when you poke them. If it feels like wood, it probably isn’t ripe yet. But avoid melons with skin bordering on mushy. While the flesh closer to the rind will be good, the center of the melon might be rotting.
Strawberries. These popular fruits have many applications. It’s recommended you get these at the peak of the spring season. But don’t let them sit around. They have a very short life after being picked.
Rutabagas. This is not well-known root vegetable has made it through the winter and is now ready to harvest. They are inexpensive and loaded with vitamin C. They can be boiled, baked or mashed. As they are a relative of the turnip, you can cook them the same way. Mix with potatoes for a snappy new take on an old standard.
Spring Peas. These tender balls of goodness are versatile. They can be eaten in so many things from soups to salads. Add some to pasta to really kick up the nutritional value of the dish.
Asparagus is another little green wonder that begins showing up in the spring. The white variety has tough skin that has to be removed before cooking. You can stick with the green variety for steaming, roasting or sautéing. And don’t think the thin whips are more tender. The thicker stems can be cut into smaller pieces and cooked to a tasty, less fibrous consistency.
Fava beans. These have a very short spring season. In fact, that’s what the name means. Like other beans, these are nutritional powerhouses with lots of fiber, vitamins and other vital nutrients like iron and zinc. You can use them in many ways, much as you would chickpeas.
Baby lettuce. The wonderful thing about lettuce is it’s easy to grow, even indoors. A simple window box can supply you with plenty of greens that just keep coming. Baby lettuce has a delicate flavor that can perk up any salad, so much so that you may not even need dressing.
Morel mushrooms. These begin appearing as early as late winter, depending on the weather. These are some of the best-tasting mushrooms you will ever eat. Sauté them in a little butter and you’re in for a treat.
Take a walk through the local farmers’ market. But try to exercise some restraint. These foods will look so good you’ll be tempted to buy more than you can carry.