As the days are growing sunnier and longer, it is the perfect time to check out which spring vegetables and fruits are available! And you may be wondering how to prepare them in tasty ways. Here in Pennsylvania, we will have fresh peas, spinach, collard greens, and strawberries ripening in April, May, and early June. I have gathered a variety of garden-fresh recipes for soups, salads, pasta, risotto, smoothies, desserts, and more to help you enjoy them!
Check this Seasonal Food Guide to find what produce is fresh in your area now. When you find some of these in local stores and farmers’ markets, here are some ideas of what to make with them and why they are good for you.
Are you growing any produce now? I have been growing herbs and lettuce in an indoor hydroponic garden this winter. I love having these right at my desk for super-fresh salads, without needing to go to the store so often for lettuce. I also have rosemary, Italian parsley, cilantro, and lemon basil growing. the basil is great on Italian dishes, like my vegan pizza.
All of these spring vegetables provide fiber, vitamins and minerals, and phytonutrients, – substances in food that are beneficial for our health in many ways. Let’s look first at peas:
Green peas are a wonderful fresh taste of spring. Did you know they are one of the highest protein vegetables? A half-cup contains 59 calories with 4 gm of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and 2 mg. of iron (USDA FoodData Central). Fourteen gm. of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed are recommended daily for adults, which works out to 25 grams of fiber per day for women and 38 for men (Daly & Stewart, 2015). Green peas are delicious with pasta or rice, cooked with carrots and other vegetables, added to a curry, or raw in a salad.
Vegan Mushroom and Pea Risotto – Claire at Eat With Clarity
Need a quick dinner but still want to impress? This vegan mushroom risotto is a simple gluten free recipe but it packs a whole lot of flavor.
Fresh spinach is one of my favorite spring vegetables. It is wonderful raw in a salad or smoothie or cooked with whole grains or in a stir-fry. One cup of raw spinach contains just 7 calories with 2,810 IU of vitamin A and 167 mg. of potassium, according to USDA FoodData Central. Adults should have 2,300 – 3,400 mg. of potassium daily, according to the updated Dietary Reference Intake from 3/19.
Sometimes you’ve just gotta try something new. And that’s exactly what this Asian Tofu Salad is all about. How often do you get to throw radishes, pineapple, spinach, and tofu together? It’s a crispy, crunchy, and colourful mix of appealing foods.
Mushrooms come in many varieties and have both a terrific texture when cooked and “umami” a savory 5th taste. They are low in calories with 15 calories per cup, and provide 223 milligrams of potassium too (FoodData Central). Some varieties of mushrooms contain vitamin D, if they are exposed to ultraviolet light when growing (Cardwell et. al., 2018).
These spring vegetables are terrific in soup, risotto, or grilled. A portobello wrap or panini is one of my favorite things to order for lunch.
Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms with Artichokes and Kale
This delightful Italian style appetizer is a sure guest-pleaser. Enjoy the fresh flavors of garlic, wine, artichokes, and herbs.
Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms are a perfect appetizer for your next party, full of garlic, toasted pecans, sundried tomatoes, spinach, and then topped with a citrus basil dressing. They are easy to make and you can make them ahead then bake just before a party. Are mushrooms good for you? Mushrooms can ge…
Collard greens are another versatile leafy green veggie. I like them sauteed with garlic, onions, tomatoes, olive oil, and black or red pepper. Did you know that they are a good source of calcium? One cup of raw collard greens (which cooks down to much less) has 22 mg calcium, plus 4 gm. of fiber and just 32 calories (USDA FoodData Central).
Collard Green Wraps with Sweet Potato – Kate at Veggie Desserts
Collard Green Wraps filled with sweet potato and quinoa are a tasty light lunch, side dish or appetizer. Easy to make, nutritious, vegan and gluten-free.
If you can, try to find a local farm growing strawberries or even grow your own for the absolutely best flavor. Strawberries are a terrific fresh fruit for the spring. They are high in vitamin C and low in calories. One cup contains…….. Vitamin C is an antioxidant: read more about the benefits of these from food in this article “Understanding Antioxidants” from Harvard Health.
Try them just plain for a snack, added to plant-based yogurt, or on top of oatmeal too. I enjoy them as is, to top waffles or soy yogurt, and in strawberries and sorbet. They are also so good dipped in melted chocolate!
Scrumptious Strawberry Sorbet
This is a super-easy light dairy-free, vegan dessert. It is inexpensive, low in added sugar, and you don't need an ice cream maker to make it.
Cardwell, G., Bornman, J. F., James, A. P., & Black, L. J. (2018). A Review of Mushrooms as a Potential Source of Dietary Vitamin D. Nutrients, 10(10), 1498. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10101498
Dahl, W. J., & Stewart, M. L. (2015). Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 115(11), 1861–1870. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2015.09.003
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