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Seasonal Vegetables

10 Sensational Seasonals

By Joe Wilkes
From the Million Dollar Body Club - Join Today and Workout to Win!

Veggie IntroYes, yet again, we are imploring you to eat your vegetables. Low in calories, but high in fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients, fresh vegetables should always be a part of a healthy diet. But, now that spring has sprung, there's an even better reason to eat your veggiesthey taste great! Here in Los Angeles, it's not uncommon to see the city's top chefs foraging through the local farmers' markets, as May is the month when some of the best seasonable vegetables are available for the eating. Here are some you can get now while they're at their peak.

  1. ArtichokesArtichokes. The globe artichoke, a member of the thistle family, is so beautiful, that some markets are selling them after they bloom as a decorative purple flower. But the floral enthusiasts are missing out on the delicious leaves of the unopened artichoke, not to mention potassium and vitamin A. To prepare a large artichoke, trim the stem so it has a flat base, then steam, covered, in a pot with a small amount of water until the bottom is tender. Then, peel the leaves one by one and scrape the meaty bottoms with your teeth, discarding the inedible part of the leaf. You can make a healthy dip for the leaves with some nonfat yogurt mixed with fresh minced garlic and/or some Dijon mustard. Small baby artichokes are also available and are great sautéed or roasted.

  2. ArugulaArugula. This spicy member of the mustard family can zip up any salad. It is full of vitamin C and iron with hardly any calories. While most people only use it raw in salad, it can also be wilted into pasta dishes, chopped into pesto, or added to soups. You can also substitute for spinach in recipes for a unique flavor.

  3. AsparagusAsparagus.This favorite has a short season which we're right in the middle of. Both the traditional green spears and the more exotic grown-in-the-dark white asparagus contain high levels of potassium, folic acid, and fiber, with hardly any calories and lots of flavor. Asparagus also has a mild diuretic effect, which can aid with any bloating issues. For easy preparation, cut off the fibrous ends and wrap in an aluminum foil pouch with a little olive oil, lemon juice, and your favorite blend of garlic and herbs. Roast in the oven (about 10 minutes at 450 degrees) or on the grill until tender, but still bright green and somewhat crisp. Cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the spears.

  4. Fava BeansFava beans. Serve these with a nice chianti, and you can ensure that your guests will be at least a little nervous about the meat dish. These broad bean pods do require extra effort as their tough shells must be removed prior to cooking (this is an excellent opportunity to employ child labor). You'll be rewarded for the hard work with delicious legumes, a 3/4-cup serving of which contains 85% of your RDA of fiber and 30% of iron. They are higher in calories (about 300 a serving) than most vegetables, but their high fiber content makes up for that. They're great steamed or boiled, added to soups and pasta dishes, or pureed into spreads.

  5. Green GarlicGreen garlic. Most of us are familiar with the white bulbous vampire repellent, but we rarely see them in their young state. Similar in appearance to scallions, green garlic has a very short season which is quickly coming to an end. It is much milder than mature garlic, and can be substituted for its older relative in any recipe where you want a more delicate flavor. The tender green parts can be chopped and added to soups, omelets, or any place you would use scallions, leeks, or garlic bulbs. Click here to read more about members of the allium family.

  6. KohlrabiKohlrabi. The name comes from a combination of the German words for cabbage and turnip. Its flavor is similar to cabbage with a texture more similar to broccoli or cauliflower stems. The smaller the kohlrabi, the more tender. It's low in calories, high in fiber, and contains vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, copper, and folic acid. It can be used as an ingredient variation of its namesake cousins in many recipes, such as cole slaw, or it can be roasted, steamed, boiled, or stir-fried.

  7. Mustard GreensMustard greens. This soul-food staple contains lots of great antioxidants and minerals like chromium, iron, and zinc and is high in vitamins A and K. They can taste bitter, so they're best when cooked for a long period of time. The traditional soul-food preparations often include high-fat, high-calorie ingredients like ham hocks, bacon, and brown sugar. Instead of these ingredients, try cutting the bitterness with a dash of some balsamic vinegar, Tabasco sauce, or lemon juice with a tiny pinch of salt.

  8. PeasPeas. Among the most popular canned and frozen vegetables, peas were at the vanguard of both preservation technologies. This is largely because of their exceedingly short growing season. But if you want to sample peas untouched by the Jolly Green Giant, now's your chance. And you haven't had peas, until you've eaten them fresh. A cup of peas has more than half your RDA of vitamin K, plus a lot of manganese, vitamin C, thiamin, and fiber all for only 134 calories. Sweet and flavorful, peas are great prepared simply, lightly steamed or blanched and served on their own, or as an addition to salads, soups, and stews.

  9. RadicchioRadicchio. Also known as Italian chicory, radicchio is bought in heads of beautiful ruby-and-white-streaked leaves. In ancient times it was considered a blood and liver purifier. It contains high levels of magnesium, potassium, and vitamin A. Like arugula, it is mostly eaten raw in salads, but that's just the tip of the iceberg for how it can be prepared. The heads can be marinated and grilled, sautéed in olive oil and tossed with pasta, or can even be used as a pizza topping.

  10. RhubarbRhubarb. Many people mistakenly regard rhubarb as a fruit, as it is frequently used in pies, jams, and even for wine. But it is a vegetable and quite a healthy one. It's high in vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium. In its pie, jam, or wine forms, the health benefits of the plant are somewhat mitigated, but there are lots of other healthier ways to get your rhubarb on—including in soup, salad, salsa, or pickled. Sautéed, its tangy flavor makes a great accompaniment for fish.

So get to the farmers' market or grocery store, while you can still get these veggies at the top of their game!

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I am a full time Beachbody Coach. I motivate and guide close to 2,500 Club members and head a team of 11 Beachbody Coaches who are all committed to helping you reach your goals. Before joining BeachBody, I was a certified personal trainer for more than a dozen years and have been a running coach for over 20 years. Continued...

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