10 Sensational Seasonals
By Joe Wilkes
From the Million Dollar Body Club - Join Today and Workout to
Yes, 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.
- Artichokes. 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.
- Arugula. 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.
- Asparagus.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.
- Fava 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.
- Green 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.
- Kohlrabi. 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.
- Mustard 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.
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.
- Radicchio. 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
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 onincluding 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