Fresh Spring Recipes

spring recipes

Spring is associated with more than just Kleenex, pollen, and runny noses. The season “spring” runs from March to May and is prime time for many fruits and vegetables due to the warmer and milder environmental conditions. Though the exact times of planting and harvesting can vary greatly due to the geography, precipitation, and average temperature of the location, spring months in California are especially good for these delicious foods below:

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Strawberries

In California, strawberries are grown from January to November, with the prime of its harvest from April until June. Strawberries are a good choice since they contain more vitamin C than other berries and also contain folate and the minerals manganese, potassium, and magnesium, among others. Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is one of the B vitamins that assist the body in converting carbohydrates into glucose for energy and are essential for liver, skin, and eye health. There are some studies that indicate that folate may reduce the risk of heart disease, although this evidence is not yet conclusive. The vitamin C present in strawberries aids the body in battling infectious agents and harmful free radicals. Ripe strawberries will be a bright, ruby red – avoid strawberries that are too dark (overly ripe) in color if you wish to store them for more than two days.

Enjoy strawberries in a more natural form as frozen strawberry pops. This quick and hassle-free recipe is in perfect timing for Davis’s hot weather just around the corner. Add thin slices of strawberry to each popsicle for a nice aesthetic look. Alternatively, chunks of other fruits, like raspberries or blueberries, can be added as well.

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Asparagus

Asparagus, though native to the eastern Mediterranean area, gained popularity among royalty in France and England in the 16th century and was later introduced to America by subsequent colonists. Coined the “Food of Kings”, a half cup of chopped asparagus contains 57% of the daily value of vitamin K, which aids in blood clotting to stop excessive bleeding. Vitamin K may also play a role bone health by promoting bone formation inside the body.

The same serving of asparagus also contains 18% of the daily value of vitamin A. There are two kinds of vitamin A – retinoids and carotenoids (the latter being found in plants). Beta-carotene, a carotenoid, is an antioxidant which reduces inflammatory action inside the body. Furthermore, some studies have indicated that obtaining vitamin A through dietary supplements may not have the same beneficial effects as obtaining it through natural food sources.

Asparagus can be included as part of a simple and healthy breakfast here.

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Artichokes

Though artichokes can generally be found year-round, their peak season is also from March to May. Just one-half cup of artichoke hearts (the inside of the artichoke) contains seven grams of fiber and two grams of protein. The water-insoluble fiber in vegetables is beneficial in helping prevent constipation and promote health of the digestive tract, and is linked with decreasing risk of gastrointestinal diseases or cancers. The Institute of Medicine recommends that women consume 25g of fiber daily, while men need 38g daily. Thus, just a half cup of artichoke hearts fulfills a substantial amount of this requirement. A half-cup also contains 19% of the daily value of folate and 16% of the daily value of vitamin K.

How do you know if an artichoke is ripe? The leaves of the artichoke should cling to each other and not be loose to touch – leaves that are loose can cause the artichoke to lose its flavor. Fresh artichokes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Don’t worry if you’ve never cooked with artichoke before- canned artichokes (which contain almost the same amount of nutrients as fresh ones) can work well also. Check out this artichoke dip recipe that can be paired with multigrain tortilla chips as a delicious snack.

For ingredients for these recipes and more, head to the UC Davis Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays from 11-1 on the quad!

What other fruits and vegetables do you love to eat in the spring? Comment below!

By Esther Chen, Clinical Nutrition Student

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