As spring starts showing more signs of life and green, it’s the perfect time to add more life and green to your diet. Greens such as spinach, lettuce, peas, beans, asparagus and broccoli are all in season in the spring and are jam-packed with nutrients, specifically immune boosting and energizing vitamins such as Vitamin B and C. Give your body a spring-like awakening by adding these green power plants to your meals!
What does it mean to eat in season? The idea seems simple, you incorporate more foods that are grown and harvested in the season that you are going to buy and cook them in. In society today, though, we are so used to having out-of-season produce readily available to us on supermarket shelves which makes it confusing to identify which are actually in season for our region. Because intentionally purchasing and consuming foods that are in season have a holistically positive effect on the crops (lower C02 emissions used to produce), on your wallet (seasonal fruits and vegetables are cheaper), and your body (local crops are more nutrient-dense and contain less chemicals to keep the produce ‘fresh’), it’s a no-brainer that you want to start being a bit more conscious of the foods you purchase and when.
Produce that is in season is in it’s greatest supply, therefore it costs less for farmers to produce and for companies to get it to your grocery store. This is a big win: reducing your costs while increasing your health! More benefits of eating locally, and therefore seasonably, are that food grown closer to you will be fresher and you’ll be supporting and sustaining local farmers in your community.
Here are some tips to start incorporating seasonality into your diet:
- Think of eating in season as a new goal or game. Try new foods and make new dishes! Increasing your variety in foods expands your exposure to more vitamins and nutrients that your body needs. Sneaking produce into smoothies and fresh juices is also a fun and easy way to add some seasonal vitamin rich foods to your diet. (And visit your local Juicery or Maine Squeeze!)
- Check the grocery store prices regularly. If you notice an increase in prices at certain items, mostly likely those items are out of season and are being shipped from far away. If you notice an abundance of one item or a “sale” of some kind, that item is most likely in season.
- Use online resources to guide you! One of my favorites is the Seasonal Food Guide. This website shows what fresh produce is in your area at what time of year so you don’t have to religiously check the food prices at the grocery store.
- Spring time also brings back the beloved farmers market! Purchasing from farmers markets ensure that the items are all locally grown, in season, all while supporting your community.
One more helpful tidbit…
A not-so-well known green in New England are Fiddleheads! Fiddleheads are in season starting in late April to the end of May. Growing up in Maine, Fiddleheads were always a seasonal delicacy and searching for them in the woods was a fond family pastime. You only can get these baby ferns during a couple weeks out of the year. Health benefits of fiddleheads include that they are rich in omega 3 and 6, high in antioxidants and a great source of Vitamin A. If you can get your hands on some by foraging outside or from your local farmers market and/or grocery store, you won’t be disappointed. The traditional way to cook fiddleheads is to make sure they are clean (soak in water and remove dirt, leaves, etc.) and cut the stems short. You then boil the clean fiddle heads for 7-10 minutes as if you were making collard greens. Strain the water and add seasoning such as olive oil, butter, garlic and vinegar. Some other ideas (if you don’t like eating greens alone) is to add them to omelets, quiche, salads and soups.