As the months start to get warmer, it’s time to look forward to all the delicious fruits and vegetables in season. The beauty of seasonal produce is that it’s at peak freshness, has the best flavor and is often more affordable than if you were to buy it out of season.
We’ve compiled 10 of the best seasonal foods to incorporate into your diet this spring and summer, along with tips on how to prepare them. This list of vegetables can be found at your local farmer’s market or supermarket; if you haven’t tried some of them before, try choosing one per week for a little variety!
If you’re a Jenny Craig member, all of these vegetables are on our Fresh and Free Additions list — which means they are low in calories but high in nutrients and fiber, so they can help you feel full and keep your digestive system humming.
Packed with almost 7 grams of fiber,1 artichokes are a hearty, nutritious, high-fiber food that can help you feel full longer. To prepare, simply boil or steam until the “heart” at the bottom is tender, about 45 minutes. Scrape the tops and bottoms of the leaves with your teeth; once you reach the center, remove the thistles before enjoying the delicious heart.
This peppery salad green is related to broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts. Interestingly, it boasts a healthy amount of nitrate which can help lower blood pressure and increase oxygen efficiency, helping to protect the heart.2 Because arugula has such a great flavor, try pairing it with eggs, putting it on pizza or making a zingy salad with it.
A quintessential harbinger of spring, asparagus can be eaten raw or cooked. This vegetable contains plenty of folate, a B vitamin that’s particularly beneficial during pregnancy; research also indicates that folate can help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.3 Just four spears of boiled asparagus provide 22 percent of the recommended daily value of folate. Try asparagus steamed or sautéed with shallots and mushrooms.
Flavorful and packed with nutrients, microgreens are tinier, younger versions of full-grown plants such as kale, spinach and arugula. In addition to being sweeter and more delicate than their larger counterparts, microgreens may have added health benefits, as research shows they include nutrients that could be used in diet-based disease prevention.4 Sprinkle them over meat or fish for a fresh burst of flavor, or mix them into a bowl of greens — you won’t need much dressing if you toss them well.
Boasting phosphate, calcium, iron, zinc, manganese and vitamin K, the nutrients in fennel are particularly good for bone health. This bulb is chock-full of many other vitamins and minerals as well, such as potassium and vitamin C.5 Although the mild licorice flavor of fennel can be an acquired taste for some, depending on how you prepare it, you might not even notice! Chop it up and add to a stir-fry for a milder flavor, or use it raw in a salad for a more pronounced flavor.
These veggies have a milder taste than their onion cousins and can be good for your eye and heart health.6 Before using, be sure to wash well; focus between the layers, where dirt sneaks in. Add chopped leeks to any sauté, stir-fry or soup; or you can roast leeks in long strips like kale to make “chips.”
The muscle-fueling protein in peas is one of the unique benefits of this versatile green veggie.7 Keep in mind that peas are a starchy vegetable, so about a ½ cup is the perfect amount for one serving. Try them in a fresh spring soup or side dish with parsley and lemon. Peas can also be easily frozen — keep them on hand to toss a handful into a dish you’re cooking, or, just zap them in the microwave to defrost and top your next salad with them.
Want to spice up your next dish? Look no further than the radish, which can add a delicious color and crunch. The bitter, spicy taste of radishes comes from a natural chemical that may help kick-start an anti-inflammatory reaction in your body’s cells.8 Radishes make a tasty snack on their own; or chop them into thin slices, matchsticks or cubes and add them to a salad or side dish. Since there are so many different types, the spiciness will depend on the variety used.
With their wispy, scallion-like tops and small white bulbs at the bottom, spring onions have been picked before they’ve completely developed, giving them a sweeter and more mellow flavor than regular onions. Research indicates that eating vegetables that fall into the allium family (including garlic, onions and scallions) may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.9 Spring onions do tend to have a stronger flavor than scallions or green onions,10 so you might want to cook them before eating. Or try them grilled! You can also chop them and use in any dish as you would an onion.
The high amounts of vitamin K in watercress may be beneficial for bone health.11 You can find this green as delicate leaves and stalks, which makes it an ideal garnish. Or choose a bunch of watercress with large, broad leaves that are hearty enough for a salad. Watercress pairs well with citrus fruits and fennel, or use it to top any dish that would go well with parsley or cilantro.
Did you know you can add any of these veggies to your meals with Jenny Craig? Learn how a balanced nutrition plan can help support your weight loss — contact us today to get started!