There are definitely some "food fads" out there, but when it comes to clean and healthy eating, fruits and veggies are a big part of the equation.
Although it may not feel like spring weather in some parts of the country, tis the season for all that is spring, including seasonal fruits and veggies that can do a body good.
Nutritionist and Spiderbands creator Franci Cohen breaks down what we should be putting into our baskets at the grocery store and what benefits they give to our bodies, as part of OK!'s 12 Week Countdown To Summer fitness campaign.
1) Strawberries: strawberry season is April until June. These sweet, juicy berries are nutritional knockouts with just 1 cup offering 3.5 grams of fiber and meeting 100% of your daily vitamin C needs. They also boast a high folic acid content, which stimulates mental alertness-great for those "can't get out of bed" mornings! It is best to splurge and pay a little extra for organic berries. Because they go bad real fast, they are usually chock full of pesticides and other harmful preservatives used to increase shelf-life. Organic berries may not be as bright and shiny, but they'll offer the same delicious taste, all the nutrients, and none of the harmful preservatives.
2) Asparagus: These sword-like spears definitely have powerful slaying ability! Jammed-packed with so many nutrients, they can ward off just about any germ or bug! Low in fat and high in fiber, these tender stalks are a good source of iron, B vitamins, and vitamin C. Asparagus are at their peak from March until June. Once harvested, asparagus deteriorate rapidly, so place them in cool dry storage (do not store in plastic bags) to retain freshness and nutrition. Delicious roasted, grilled, or lightly sautéed in olive oil, these seasonal spears make a tasty addition to any meal.
3) Cherries: These round crimson balls of sweetness are available during the late spring and early summer, and are so delicious! Cherries are high in fiber and potassium, while remaining low in calories (just 1 cup of sweet cherries is about 100 calories). The intense red color of cherries is due partly to their anthocyanin content. Anthocyanins are a type of plant chemical (phytochemical) that contain high antioxidant activity. The best cherries are large (an inch or more in diameter), plump, firm, and rich in color and are equally delicious as a snack or dessert.
4) Peas: Fresh peas including sugar snap peas, snow peas, and green peas in the pod, are at their peak from April through July. Like most legumes, peas are low in fat and high in fiber and are a good source of phytoproteins (plant protein). Their nutritional profile differs depending on variety. For example, green peas offer more B vitamins and zinc, while snow and snap peas offer more vitamin C. Peas are perfect on their own or tossed in salads, rice pilafs, lightly steamed or sautéed, and served as a side dish.
5) Apricots: Fresh, bite-size, and fun to eat, these 50-calorie munchkins can't be beat! Fresh apricots peak in season from May until August. They are high in beta-carotene, potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. Sink your teeth into them for a snack, use them as a base for homemade jams or salsas, cook them down to create a mouth-watering marinade for meats and poultry, and they add a tart and tangy twist to salads!
6) Radishes: Radishes are root vegetables with a distinctive flavor that ranges from mild to sharp, depending on variety. Unlike most root vegetables, it is comprised of mostly water, and not much starch at all. A cup of sliced red radishes will give you 30% of your daily vitamin C requirement, with only 25 calories! Radishes that are deep in color with solid roots are best. They are great sliced in salads, soups, condiments, and cooked dishes.
7) Fava beans: No-not canned beans or even bagged beans, but fresh-picked delicious and nutritious Fava beans! They have a rich, hearty flavor, and are a terrific addition to soups, salads, or main dishes. Due to their high protein and fiber content, these beans help to keep you satiated longer. Young favas can be shelled and eaten raw or cooked, but more mature favas must be both shelled and skinned, as the skins are too tough to eat. They are delicious when paired with grains and citrus zests for a beautiful spring salad!