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Spring Fruit & Vegetables – how are they good for you?
The days are finally getting longer and the sun is finally starting to beam down – it’s spring! Personally my favourite time of the year, as there is an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables in season in spring. You can see the full list of fruit and vegetables in season throughout the year here, but in this article we are just going to focus on what’s coming into season through March, April and May and why they are actually good for you. Keep reading for some fab nutritional facts about spring fruit and vegetables and some ideas of how to make them taste delicious.
March is when we start smelling spring in the air, and there is some really good March seasonal food on offer. Lemons and oranges are actually coming out of season at this point, as winter fruits, but you can try pomegranate and enjoy fresh leaves like spinach.
Lemons are actually available all year round, but get a really good harvest January onwards, which means they are widely available during spring. This classic yellow citrus fruit is packed with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants and particularly good for vitamin C and folate. Vitamin C is important for many reasons, one being it’s key role in immunity and assisting the body in protecting cells, maintaining healthy skin and helping wound healing. You can enjoy lemons in so many ways – simply with hot water, in a lemon dessert, with fresh fish or meats. You can also see a great way to use lemons in a salad here.
Similar to lemons, oranges get a great harvest earlier in the year and means they are on offer in abundance in spring – especially the blood orange and the classic sweet/juice orange. Oranges are grown in the warmer regions of Europe and beyond and typically enjoyed as juice. Oranges are another great source of Vitamin C, as well as fibre, folate and antioxidants. You can squeeze your own fresh juice, or make into a dessert. Orange slices are also a delicious addition to a simple salad.
• Passion Fruit
Passion fruit is almost available all year round, with a small lull towards the end of winter, back into the shops in springtime. Passion fruit are noticeable because of their vibrant yellow seeds and sweet, but tart taste. Passion fruit is a great source of fibre, vitamin C and vitamin A. It’s also a rich source of antioxidants, which help protect your cells.
Pomegranates are coming out of season from winter, but still available in the first month of spring. Pomegranates have become somewhat of a trendy superfood in the past few years, not least because they are very pretty but also for their impressive nutrient profile. Whilst the skin is inedible, there is deliciousness to be found in the seeds. The seeds are a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, potassium and fibre. Enjoy sprinkled on salads, as they are or over a delicious smoothie bowl. Find other great smoothie bowl recipes here.
• Jerusalem artichoke
You might not have heard of a Jerusalem artichoke, which is even more reason to find out more about it! The Jerusalem artichoke slips out of peak season after March and contrary to it’s name, has nothing to do with Jerusalem! Jerusalem artichokes look knobbly and almost like a potato with dark outer skin – an excellent source of iron. They are also great for gut health, which you can read more about that here. You cook these much like potatoes – boil, fry or bake. Also delicious in a dip.
Spinach is such a versatile vegetable and it comes into season in March and available to buy fresh throughout the spring. Think beautiful crisp green leaves and brilliant in so many ways for your health. The list of vitamins and minerals spinach contains is lengthy, but the key ones to remember are vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K1, folic acid, iron and calcium. It also contains plant compounds, including zeaxanthin and lutein. Some studies have shown these both improve eye health. Enjoy spinach in salads, soups, smoothies, curries and so much more.
Now we are looking at April seasonal foods, of which there is much variety in season.
Grapefruit is in season through to May, and is another delicious citrus fruit that is on offer for you to enjoy. The bright pink skin might make it an Instagram favourite, but it also offers a lot in the way of goodness. Grapefruits are bitter in taste and low in calories, with a decent amount of fibre, vitamin C and other antioxidants, which have been attributed to health benefits. The best way to enjoy grapefruit is as it is, or mixed in a delicious fruit salad.
Gorgeous bright pink rhubarb comes into season in April and is widely available until early June. Rhubarb is beautiful in jams, pies, crumbles and even salads. You’ll notice it in the supermarket because of its long pink stalks and large green leaves. Rhubarb is another great source of fibre, as well as carbohydrates (sugars), potassium and vitamin C. If you’re worried your children won’t try new vegetables, why don’t you try some of these fun tips?
• New Potatoes
One of my absolute favourite vegetables – the new potato comes into season in April and they are so versatile! New potatoes have a delicious waxy texture, as well as a crispy skin. You might instantly think potatoes equal carbohydrates, which equals bad – and this really couldn’t be more wrong. Potatoes are important source of vitamins and minerals – including vitamin B1, which helps our body release energy from carbohydrates, which is vital for healthy heart and body function. They are also potassium rich. Enjoy new potatoes with some simple herbs and olive oil, or with fresh spinach and poached egg for a perfect lunch. See how you can makea simple potato salad here.
It may be the last month of spring, but there is still plenty of produce in season in May, as well as all the fruit and veg that are in season in March and April.
The nectarine comes into season in May and is a delicious addition to the spring fruit spread. Nectarines are larger than plums, but have a similar size to a peach. As with all fruit and veg in the list so far, expect these to pack a nutritional punch. Nectarines include beta-carotene, which give it’s vibrant red colour, and is an antioxidant that protects our body from free-radicals (which can cause damage to cells). Beta-carotene is converted in the body to vitamin A, used for maintaining healthy skin, teeth and bones.
Apricots will start cropping up in the supermarkets late April into May, with their vibrant orange skin and nutrient dense profile. They are another fruit on this list high in antioxidants and also with a high fibre profile, they are extremely good for the gut and promoting regular digestion. They are widely also known for assisting constipation! Enjoy in a jam, dried or even fresh.
• Lambs lettuce
Lambs lettuce is at it’s best from May into autumn, and is part of the lettuce family. Lambs lettuce has smaller green leaves and a distinct flavour. These green leaves contain iron, B vitamins and even some omega-3 fatty acids.
I’m sure we’ve all grown watercress as part of a science project at school, but watercress is actually in peak season through May and into July. Watercress is low in calories but extremely high in vitamins and minerals, including the likes of vitamin K, vitamin C, manganese and calcium. Vitamin K and calcium are both associated with good bone health and other antioxidants in watercress help boost heart health. Watercress is the best fresh, so enjoy on salad, with scrambled eggs or in a soup.
Hopefully that has got you inspired to try some of the amazing fruits and vegetables in season in spring. If you want to take a look at what fruit and vegetables are in season for the rest of the year, find our ultimate seasonal fruit and vegetable calendar here.
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