It’s springtime, and a great time for all things floral to bloom—but the larder overflows with amazing veggies, too. Here’s a full A to K of them, with the rest coming soon!
More and more dieticians are stressing the fact that humans were never really meant to consume meat. Whether you are a vegetarian, a vegan, or not, eating seasonal offerings is a good thing, and spring offers you amazing flavors that can be dressed up as you wish. So here is what spring offers you in terms of veggies, and why you should eat them…
A is for Asparagus & Artichokes
Simply speaking, both these veggies are awesome as side dishes and have a rich buttery flavor that is absolutely irreplaceable. Asparagus is an amazing source of vitamin K while artichokes are loaded with fiber and keep your cholesterol levels in check. You can serve them up as a wonderful side dish, lightly sautéed with just some garlic and butter, with a bit of salt and pepper. Other options include sautéing them in a little olive oil and dressing them up with hollandaise sauce or even a lemon-butter one.
B is for Broccoli
Now while your kids might turn up their noses for this one, broccoli is a great source of fiber, potassium, vitamin K, vitamin C, and folate—so it is a powerhouse! The trick to cooking it is blanching it for just 3-5 minutes—this way it retains a juicy bite and is not bitter at all. A little sweet and spicy sauce is the perfect accompaniment…And you can always add it in stir-frys.
C is for Chives
Chives are basically relatives of the onion or garlic plants and retain a beautiful but not overpowering garlic flavor that goes very well in any Asian stir-frys or soups and also makes a great addition to garlic bread. Plus, they burst with many a vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant.
D is for Dandelion Greens
Nope, you read it right. While the flowers make a pretty addition, dandelion greens are healthy and a great forage food to add to your salad, stir-fry, side greens, or even smoothies. Rich in iron, calcium, and antioxidants, the leaves have a mild spicy kick to them that gets toned down if you cook them a little.
E is for Endives
If you like a little bitterness to your meals, endives are a perfectly healthy way to add the desired taste, whether you take the curly variety or the flat one. The crunch is satisfying enough for you to forego those chips, plus frankly, where else would you find leaves so perfectly shaped to hold a filling of your choice? I love a crunchy endive holding a perfect egg and prawn salad, dressed in sweet onion sauce. But you could also do a cottage cheese filling or even a tofu one as per your preference. Health-wise, endives have a lot of B-vitamins but are low in carbs and fat so make for an excellent snack and meal option.
F is for Fiddlehead Ferns & Fennel
Fiddlehead ferns are almost asparagus-like in their flavor and make an interesting side dish as long as they are washed and cooked well. Rich in vitamin C, niacin and potassium, fiddlehead ferns have great beta-carotene levels that make them an excellent addition to your daily antioxidant needs. Fennel, on the other hand, is rich in fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, and phytonutrients, so it’s heart healthy. Fennel does well in a salad since it’s crunchy and sweet in its raw form, but it goes silky soft when cooked—retaining its sweet anise-licorice flavor.
G is for Green Garlic & Green Beans
Green garlic is young garlic—plucked when the pods haven’t fully matured yet. The flavor is deliciously garlicky but not overly overpowering so it makes for a great addition in pesto, chutneys, pasta sauces, and even soups. You can also add chopped green garlic to bruschetta and garlic bread. Health-wise it has all the benefits of mature garlic and so offers your body a boost with natural antibiotics to take away any lingering infections from winter—completely healthy and heartwarming. Green beans are another great spring larder offering and fulfill not only your daily fiber needs but also protein and many other vitamins and minerals. And nothing tastes better or crunchier than steamed green beans with just a smidge of garlic butter for flavor!
H is for Halibut
OK, so it’s not exactly a veggie, but halibut season starts in March and carries on till fall—so if you do eat fish, this one is for you. Remember that halibut is very rich in protein, selenium, niacin, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamins B12 and B6, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids. So basically, if you want to reduce the risk of getting dementia, breast cancer, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome, the halibut is your go-to fish! You can cook it on a pan, or on the grill, or bake it or sauté it—it’s one versatile fish.
I is for Iceberg
So yes, a lot has been said about how the iceberg lettuce is the lowest on nutrition and basically adds nothing to your diet. But the fact is, it also adds no carbs or fat to your plate either, so if you are trying to bulk up your meals without boosting your calorie count, a nice iceberg salad dressed up with boiled eggs or tofu along with some cherry tomatoes and pears makes for a hearty and low-calorie meal!
J is for Jackfruit
As opposed to the other offerings of spring, jackfruit may well ripen in spring in Asia, but in the States, it can ripen as late as fall, depending on the variety. But the fact remains—you can buy green and unripe jackfruit in spring and cook it savory as is done in Asia. The flavor and texture are faintly reminiscent of pulled pork. Ripe jackfruit is yellowish in color as opposed to the unripe green and it is a fruit that has notes of mango, pear, papaya, and banana in it. It’s full of vitamin A, antioxidants, and fiber, so it’s a great addition to your spring larder indeed.
K is for Kale & Kohlrabi
With turnips and jicama on their way out, kohlrabi is the new thing to try in spring. You can eat it raw for a bland and sweet flavor, but also make delicious fritters from it that go so well with a chilly-mint dip! It boasts of nutrients and minerals like copper, potassium, manganese, iron, and calcium, as well as vitamins, such as vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, vitamin A, and vitamin K; so it does make for a great spring veggie addition to your kitchen. Kale, on the other hand, is so low in calories but so high in fiber as well as minerals, vitamins, and nutrients that you simply have to add it to your winter/spring larder—eat it raw, add it in smoothies or blanch it in a soup.
Enough alphabetical ingredients for today, right? Hope you have fun with these ingredients—and we’ll bring you some more on another spring day…