By Annmarie Rodriguez
‘Eat your vegetables!’ may be an expression echoing through your head from childhood. Since it's a familiar expression, it can be easy to dismiss. Yet, to make consistent healthy choices it’s important to cultivate a deeper understanding of why eating certain vegetables can be valuable.
Similar to our ‘Spring Time Fruits’ post, we have researched and compiled a list of various vegetables that are in their peak season during spring. The list includes their nutritional value.
Our hope is that this will help you shop, cook and eat well.
Vegetables In Season
Rhubarb is often used as a fruit, but is technically a vegetable. It is available year-round, but grows with greater variety from April through July. It contains a good source of vitamin C, potassium and manganese.
*Important to note: rhubarb stalks are the only part of the plant that you should eat.
Asparagus are in their prime during April; however, their full season lasts from February through June. This vegetable contains numerous health benefits due to its many nutrients, including: fiber, folate, Vitamin A, antioxidants (Vitamin C, E, minerals: manganese and selenium).They are high in gluthanthione, which is a 'detoxifying compound' that helps our bodies fight off harmful substances like free radicals.
*Fun fact: Asparagus comes in three colors—green, purple and white.
Spinach is often referred to as an ultra-healthy 'power' vegetable. If you've ever seen Popeye, a cartoon series from the 1930s, you know what I'm talking about. Popeye, the protagonist, eats a can of spinach in times of need and quickly bulges with muscles and strength. Although you may not gain superhuman strength by eating a can of it, spinach is in fact an incredibly nutritious vegetable. It contains large amounts of Vitamin K which helps our bodies maintain bone health. It also contains a wonderful supply of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, folic acid, manganese, magnesium, iron and vitamin B2. It is available year-round, but is in season during the spring from March to June.
*Tip of the trade when cooking spinach: It doesn’t hurt to put a little more spinach in your pan than you might think. Spinach has a large water content which causes it to shrink.
Artichokes are at their peak season from March to May. Artichokes contain a rich nestle of nutrients, which include: Vitamin C, Vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, folate, and great amounts of fiber (about 10 grams for a medium sized artichoke). They hold anti-inflammatory antioxidants within their green, round and slightly spiky exterior.
*Fun fact: California grows close to 100% of all of the artichokes in the U.S.
Green Garlic is a young form of garlic that looks like green onion because of its stalk. It is in season from February to June. When eaten fresh, green garlic helps boost your immune system due to the allicin it contains, which also gives garlic its strong smell. Because of this, it helps prevent both the cold and flu.
Peas are in season from April to November. You can eat them cold or warm, whole or just the peas without the pod. In addition to their versatility in consumption, peas are low in calories, and high in protein and fiber. They also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties due to the following nutrients: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, antioxidant mineral zinc, and alpha-linolenic acid (through which peas provide Omega-3 fat). They also contain pisumsaponins I & II along with pisomosides A & B.
Celery is in season from April to December. Celery is filled with healthy content. It contains Vitamin A, C, E, D, B6, B12, K, thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid, and fiber. All these nutrients gathered together in this green stalk-y vegetable to provide the following health benefits: reduced blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, reduced inflammation (around joints, in the lungs due to asthma, and the like), and it's good for your eyes (due to its Vitamin A content) and soothes your nervous system which means: stress relief!
*Tip of the trade: It will retain more of its great nutrients if it is freshly chopped. If you're going to chop it up, do so the same day as consumption.
[Photograph by David Marsden. Photo Library: Getty Images]