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By Terri Mendoza and Andrea Couture

shutterstock_302702174Winter did not want to leave Massachusetts this year.  But spring has finally arrived, bringing us sunshine, blossoming flowers, chirping birds, and one of my favorite things—the chance to eat local, seasonal fruits and vegetables!

When you enjoy seasonal produce grown closer to where you live, you’re not only benefiting your local community, but you’re benefiting your health as well!  Fruits and vegetables picked during their peak growing period often taste better and can have more nutrients than produce that has to sit in storage and be transported long distances before landing on your table.  That’s the same reason why buying seasonal produce can help save you money, since it’s cheaper to transport those fruits and veggies to local stores.  To top it all off, buying according to the seasons is a great way to support and get to know your local farmers.

My favorite seasonal vegetable to eat in May is asparagus, since it can be a bit pricey at other times of the year.  Not only is it delicious, but asparagus is bursting with important nutrients like folic acid, potassium, fiber, and vitamins A and C.  Some people don’t think of buying asparagus since it seems difficult to shop for and prepare, but it is easier than you think!  Try these tips:

  • When shopping for asparagus, look for firm, straight stalks with small tips
  • Avoid stalks with white or brown bottoms
  • Store upright in the refrigerator with the bottom ends in a little bit of water, or wrap the entire bunch in a wet paper towel)
  • Eat within 3-4 days of purchase

Here’s a quick and delicious recipe for roasted asparagus:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 ⁰F
  • Rinse the asparagus
  • Snap off the bottoms of each stalk–your kids will love helping you with this step!
  • Toss the asparagus with a little olive oil and any seasonings of your choice
  • Spread the asparagus in a single layer on a cookie sheet
  • Roast for about 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned, flipping them once
  • Enjoy!

Curious where you can buy locally grown asparagus?  Check this list to find farmers’ markets in your area: http://www.farmersmarketonline.com/fm/Massachusetts.htm

And visit http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/images/availability_chart.jpg to see when your favorite fruits and vegetables will be in season.

 

Andrea Couture is a dietetic intern at Priority Nutrition.

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