Winter cooking is often associated with heavy stews and hearty dishes, and spring is the perfect time to switch up your diet to incorporate more fresh vegetables. Embrace the changing seasons and reap the benefits of health perks offered by spring vegetables by regularly incorporating these four into your meals.
Arugula: A Nutrient Rich Powerhouse
When the weather starts to warm up, fresh, leafy greens get to — quite literally — have their moment in the sun. Arugula contains high levels of beta-carotene, vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin, all known for aiding in vision and eye health. It’s also loaded with nutrients that can help control blood pressure and promote heart health. So, make the most of this in-season nutrient powerhouse that is bursting with vitamins and minerals.
This simple salad is full of flavor from both the arugula and the zesty dressing. Made from blended dijon mustard, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey, the homemade balsamic vinaigrette is everything you could want in a salad dressing; it’s tangy, sweet and light. Top with a protein-packed baked Tilapia fillet, diced tomatoes and chopped onion to further enhance the dish.
Try the recipe: Arugula Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette from Tastes Lovely.
Asparagus: Brain-Boosting and Bone-Strengthening
This lemon asparagus will hit the spot with its crunchy texture and earthy flavor, and it takes less than a half hour to cook. Be sure to regularly incorporate asparagus into your weekly meals, as it contains brain-boosting asparagine (an amino acid) and is an excellent source of iron. It’s also full of vitamin K, which promotes strong bone health.
Bake this lemon asparagus alongside lemon-garlic Tilapia fillets for an epic combination. With the addition of pine nuts and a medley of herbs, this dish is a flavorful hit that will equally satisfy your tastebuds and nutritional needs.
Try the recipe: Lemon Tilapia and Asparagus from Perchance to Cook.
Beetroot: It Can’t be Beat
Bright, vibrant beet salsa makes the perfect addition to any spring or summer dish. Beets are loaded with healthy nitrates, which lower blood pressure and inflammation levels, and can boost the flow of oxygen to your muscles, helping you exercise longer.
Combining the flavors of serrano or jalapeno chiles, cilantro, fresh beets, fresh lime juice and sliced apple, this condiment will satisfy in a way that store-bought salsa never will. The salsa is zesty, so adjust spicier ingredients according to your taste. Serve it over an oven baked Tilapia fillet and enjoy the tasty contrast of fresh beetroot and flaky fish.
Try the recipe: Seared Fish with Beet Salsa from NY Times Cooking.
Peas: Small But Mighty Morsels
For an uber-fresh side dish, try your hand at a minty pea salad. With ingredients like dates, serrano chile, mint leaves, pumpkin seeds and, of course, fresh peas, the salad is a quintessential spring dish. The salad looks colorful and delicate when served, so be sure to earmark the recipe for any springtime celebrations.
Small but mighty, green peas are a great source of calcium, iron, copper, zinc and manganese. They are also super low in fat and contain high amounts of coumestrol, a phytonutrient thought to help prevent stomach cancer. Use this salad as a side dish for grilled or poached Tilapia, topping fillets with a couple of chopped mint leaves for an extra burst of flavor.
Try the recipe: Fresh Pea Salad from 101 Cookbooks.
Spring is one of the peak seasons for dark, leafy greens, of which you should eat as many daily servings as you can! These types of vegetables contain almost zero calories, yet are astoundingly nutrition-packed. Add a generous sprinkle of arugula, spinach or chopped kale on top or under any protein or soup.
Head to your local farmer’s market this weekend and stock up on all of the glorious, fresh spring vegetables vendors have to offer—your health and taste buds will thank you.
For more vegetable side dishes, view 5 No-Cook Side Dishes to Pair With Fish.