Food

Feel healthier! 9 tasty spring fruits & vegetables you should get on your plate

Are you sick of spring cleaning yet? Tired of purging items that no longer serve you? Sure, spring is about new beginnings and starting fresh but who says you need clean out your entire kitchen cabinet and overhaul your diet to feel refreshed at the start of a new season?

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The secret to making a dairy-free spinach artichoke dip

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The secret to making a dairy-free spinach artichoke dip

Play Video - 2:16

Rather than worry about what you should eliminate from your diet this spring, focus instead on the seasonal spring produce you should be eating more. With warmer temperatures comes a host of vibrant, fresh, nutrient-packed fruits and vegetables that are waiting to grace your kitchen table. And you can feel good about purchasing seasonal produce — they’re higher in nutrients, less expensive and better for the community.

Spring clean your diet by adding these nine seasonal fruits and vegetables to your grocery list and get started with these quick and easy, nutritionist-approved recipes!

1. Asparagus

These vibrant green spears are a good source of vitamins A, C, E, K, fiber, folate, and the chronic-disease fighting antioxidant glutathione. Asparagus is delicious grilled, pureed into a soup, simply roasted, or thrown into Lidia Bastianich's frittata.

Lidia Bastianich's Asparagus Frittata
Lidia Bastianich's Wild Asparagus Frittata
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
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2. Leeks

The onion’s sweeter, milder cousin, leeks are an excellent source of vitamins A and K and a good source of vitamin C and folate. Leeks also contain the anti-inflammatory antioxidant quercetin, which is important for heart health. Saute or braise leeks to add flavor to main dishes, puree into soup, or simply simmer them and toss them in vinaigrette like Marc Murphy.

Leeks Vinaigrette
Leeks with vinaigrette sauce on a white plate
Alamy stock
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3. Strawberries

Juicy and sweet, this red berry makes its debut in spring and is harvested through the beginning of summer. An excellent source of vitamin C, this fruit also contains fiber, potassium, folate, and the antioxidant anthocyanin. Totally versatile, throw strawberries on top of oatmeal, yogurt, into a smoothie, or pair with a dollop of whipped cream for a sweet, healthy dessert. Craving savory? Try Siri Daly's roasted vegetable tacos with strawberry salsa!

Roasted Veggie Tacos with Strawberry Salsa
Roasted veggie tacos with strawberry salsa
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
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4. Rhubarb

An inconspicuous vegetable, rhubarb is often thought of and used as a fruit in desserts and jams. A good source of vitamin C and calcium, rhubarb also contains fiber, vitamin A, and magnesium. Naturally tart, rhubarb is often paired with sweet strawberries, but in Carina Contini's rhubarb crumble, the pink vegetable takes center stage.

Rhubarb Crumble
Rhubarb Crumble
Shutterstock
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5. Fava beans

An ancient pea variety, fava beans have a distinct nutty flavor and buttery texture.These legumes are an excellent source of fiber, folate, and manganese and a good source of thiamine, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous. Fresh fava beans take a little more time and TLC to shuck and peel but you can also find shelled fava beans in the freezer section of some grocery stores. Toss fava beans in a salad, pair with your main, puree them, or add to risotto like Anthony Scotto does.

Spring Risotto with Fava Beans, Pancetta and Pecorino Romano
Anthony & Elaina Scotto's  Garlic & Lemon, Spring Risotto with Fava Beans
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
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6-8
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6. Watercress

A peppery, bitter green, watercress is related to mustard greens and is an excellent source of vitamins A and C and a good source of calcium. These greens add unique flavor to soups, salads, and sandwiches like this tri-tip steak sandwich by Ryan Fey.

Tri-Tip Steak Sandwich
Ryan Fey's Tri-Tip Sandwich
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
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7. Radishes

A spring cruciferous root vegetable, radishes come in many different varieties, shapes, sizes, and colors, but all are packed with vitamin C. With a crisp texture and bitter flavor, radishes are wonderful paired with salad like Katie Lee's sugar snap pea and radish salad.

Sugar Snap Pea and Radish Salad
Sugar Snap Pea and Radish Salad
Claudia Sintigo / TODAY
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8. Artichokes

Don’t let its funky appearance fool you — this vegetable is packed with nutrients such as fiber, vitamin C, folate, and magnesium. Enjoy them in a variety of ways: Use artichoke hearts with pasta, pizza, and in sauces or try them whole — stuffed, grilled, steamed, or even slow-cooked with a dipping sauce like Andrea Lynn's.

Slow Cooker Artichokes with Garlic Butter
How to steam artichokes in the slow cooker
Andrea Lynn/TODAY
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9. Fennel

This bulb has a sweet licorice-like flavor and is a good source of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Slice this veggie raw to use in salads or roast or caramelize to release more flavor. And don’t forget to use the edible fennel fronds (greens) as a garnish for your salad. Start with Clodagh McKenna's zesty asparagus, fennel and arugula salad.

Asparagus, Fennel & Arugula Salad with Zesty Orange Dressing
A delicious asparagus and fennel salad with orange dressing
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
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Kara Lydon, RD, LDN, RYT, is a nutritionist and blogger at The Foodie Dietitian.

This article was originally published on March 16, 2015.

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