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What's in season: Spring

Seasonal food is fresher, tastier and more nutritious than food consumed out of season. Even though we can eat strawberries year round, the best time to eat them is shortly after harvest when they are full of flavour and, according to some studies, contain more nutrients. Seasonal fruits and vegetables produced on local farms are often fresher, as they do not require long distances for transport.

 

Below are some of the best spring fruits and veggies to get in your basket.

 

Leeks

 

The goodness: Leeks, like garlic and onions, belong to a vegetable family called the allium vegetables. They contain flavonoids which help reduce inflammation and have also shown to have cardiovascular protection. Plus they contain lots of vitamins - A, C, K and B6.

 

How to choose: Leeks should be firm and straight with dark green leaves and white necks. Avoid those that are yellowed or wilted.

How to store: Store leeks unwashed in a loose plastic bag in the fridge where they will keep fresh for one to two weeks.

 

How to eat: Try adding finely chopped leeks to salads or to broths and stews for extra flavouring.

 


Broccoli

 

The goodness: Of all the commonly consumed cruciferous vegetables, including cauliflower and cabbage, broccoli stands out as the most concentrated source of antioxidant - vitamin C. They are also packed full of vitamins E, K and B6, chromium, folate and are a good source of dietary fibre.

 

How to choose: Pick broccoli that are firm, not bruised, with a uniformly dark green, sage or purple-green colour. Avoid those that have yellow blossoming throughout.

How to store: Unwashed broccoli can be kept fresh in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

 

How to eat: Both raw and cooked broccoli can make excellent additions to your meals. Use it raw in salads, toss it in pasta, or add it to omelettes. The stem is edible too.

 


Strawberries

 

The goodness: As with other berries, strawberries are packed full of vitamin C, they also contain anti-inflammatory nutrients that play a role in protecting our cardiovascular system. They are jam packed with manganese, which are minerals important for bone development.

 

How to choose: When strawberries are optimally ripe, they not only have the peak flavour and texture, but will have more nutrients. So choose berries that are firm and plump, with a shiny, deep red colour.

 

How to store: Strawberries are very perishable. Greater nutrient losses can occur with storage of over two days. So to maintain their freshness, store them in your refrigerator's cold storage bins.

 

How to eat: Heat can often destroy nutrients, such as vitamins. To retain the maximum amount of nutrients, it's best to enjoy them fresh and not prepared in a cooked recipe. Strawberries are perfect as a snack or try adding them to salads.

 


Pears

 

The goodness: Pears are a great source of phytonutrients, which have shown to provide us with antioxidant as well as anti-inflammatory benefits. Not only are they a good source of fibre, but also contain lots of vitamin C and K.

 

How to choose: Since pears are very perishable once they are ripe, look for pears that are firm, but not too hard and free of bruises.

 

How to store: If you are not eating ripened pears, they can be stored in the fridge for a few days. If you would like to hasten the ripening process, place them in a paper bag at room temperature.

 

How to eat: Since the skin provides about half of the pears total fibre as well as antioxidants, it is best to not peel the fruit when eaten. Sliced pears are also a great addition to a walnut, fetta and rocket salad. Squeeze several drops of lemon/lime to prevent the sliced pear from turning brown due to oxidation.

 


Also in season: asparagus, berries, broad beans, capsicum, carrots, cauliflower, cherries, cucumbers, leeks, limes, parsnips, peas, pineapple, silverbeet, strawberries, zucchini.

 

By Michelle Tong, Diabetes Dietitian & Credentialed Diabetes Educator

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