Photo: Patrick (Flickr)
As a mom of three, I am constantly paying attention to the diets of my kids. I know that what they are exposed to now can shape their love of different foods forever. It is important to me that my kids experience a wide variety of fruits and vegetables cooked in a variety of styles. If they have a palate that likes good, healthy, food seasoned with herbs and natural spices, I truly feel that will assist them in living a long and healthy life.
This time of year is one of our favorites. We love to get creative with the fresh fruit and vegetables that are now available at the farmers markets that are in our area. Over the years, we have learned a great deal about our food from the farmers that we meet during out visits to the farmers market.
An additional benefit of buying local is that you are able to buy fresher items that will not have as much damage due to transit.
Here’s a list of three of my family’s favorite early-spring foods:
Strawberries top the list for us because we absolutely love making smoothies, crepes or even just eating them plain. Strawberries are full of vitamin C which helps us fight off the change of season colds. The fact that they are in season from April to June means their flavor is great this time of year.
Asparagus is at its peak from March to June. It is a dish that my family really enjoys now that I have learned how to season them properly. I recently learned from one of my local farmers that Louis XIV dubbed asparagus the “food of kings.” (I use that fact on my kids to tell them we are eating like royalty.) It is truly a royal dish because it is low in fat, high in fiber and a great source of iron and vitamins B and C.
Another tip from my farmer — it’s best to store asparagus in a cool place in order to prolong the freshness. Once it is harvested, the freshness does not last a long time.
What mom doesn’t have something planned for desert? I know, we need to watch our calories, but sweet cherries are so hard to resist! Their peak season is late spring and early summer, and they are high in fiber and potassium. If I do not make pies with the cherries, I do send them to school with the kids as part of their snack. Or, on the weekend, I will have as an easy to grab snack on the counter.
I always wondered what made the color of cherries so intense. When I asked my nutritionist, she said that the color is partly due to the high content of anthocyanin. Who cares if you can’t pronounce it! The important thing to remember is that it means that cherries have extremely high antioxidant activity. That is perfect for my family as we try to ward off these cold and allergy germs.
What in-season fruits and veggies will you be adding to your family’s menu? Feel free to share in the comments below how you plan to incorporate all that is now in season.