It's finally arrived! After a long, seemingly endless winter, spring is finally peaking its little head through the snow, mud, or whatever other weather-induced state your soil has endured since Thanksgiving.
Every new season ushers in a different phase of life and spring has long stood as a symbol of hope—a time of freshness, of growth, of new beginnings. Springtime witnesses the natural reemergence of plants and crops that dwindled in the colder months and the produce it yields tends to be sweet and delicate—just like the time of year. Here is an overview of the best fruits and vegetables the season has to offer.
Artichokes lower blood uric acid, helping alkalize the body. This is a great veggie for fiber, antioxidants, vitamin K (for bone health and blood clotting), potassium, and copper for red blood cell production.
- Helps improve blood clotting time
- May improve blood cholesterol levels
- Among one of the vegetables highest in antioxidant activity
- Contain inulin to help stabilize blood sugar
Don't let whole artichokes intimidate you; once you get the hang of it, you'll never go back to canned. Choose plump artichoke heads with tightly closed leaves and one that is heavy for its size. Pull back on a leaf to make sure there are no black blemishes. You may store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for up to one week.
Asparagus serves as an amazing detoxifying agent due to its high level of potassium, which also happens to serve as a belly fat reducer. It has virtually no sodium, so it's excellent for bloating and women experiencing PMS, and general digestive health. Finally, the folate it contains is excellent for relieving pain and inflammation. What don't these little green stalks do?
- Known to strengthen female hormones, promote fertility, and reduce menstrual pain
- May help reduce mucus and phlegm
- A natural diuretic
Asparagus should be bright green in color, smooth, firm, straight and round. The tips should be compact and purple in color. Keep them cold and wrapped in a plastic bag in your refrigerator.
Though his choice of side dish was questionable, Hannibal Lecter sure knew his legumes. Fava beans are highly nutritious, containing folate, iron, manganese, and fiber. These nutrients support a wide variety of bodily processes, including, most notably, red blood cell manufacturing, metabolic function, and support of both the central nervous and immune systems.
- Linked to cancer prevention
- Reduce risk of heart disease
- Help slow insulin release, helping to prevent diabetes
- Shown to reduce symptoms of depression
Look for firm, fully-filled green pods. Larger bumps indicate larger beans and longer prep time, while smaller bumps indicate the opposite. The beans are bulky for their yield: 2 pounds of fresh pods will yield about 1 cup of peeled beans.
Fennel contains fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and the unique phytonutrient known as anethole, which gives the plant its anti-inflammatory and detoxifying strength. The bulb’s sweet, nutty licorice flavor also pairs beautifully with a wide variety of greens and veggies.
- Contains liver and kidney detoxifying properties
- Great for digestion
- May assist in hormone regulation
Look for firm, unmarred bulbs with bright green fronds.
Peas contain twice the amount of protein of most vegetables. Their fiber helps keep intestines strong and healthy and may help in lowering cholesterol. Iron and vitamin C in green peas especially help maintain your immune system. So stop throwing them at your kid sister across the table and start eating them!
- Abundant in anti-inflammatory antioxidants
- May help reduce the risk of stomach cancer
- High in fiber and protein which helps slow absorption of sugar into the bloodsteam
Look for bright color and plumpness when selecting green peas. Because their sugar turns quickly to starch, green peas are best eaten (or extracted) as soon as possible.
Though this red stalk looks like a cross between celery and Swiss chard, it is actually classified as a fruit. Regardless of categorization, rhubarb makes an excellent addition to any diet. The long, thin fruit is highly nutritious, containing vitamin K, calcium, the pigment lutein, and a wide range of powerful antioxidants. Unlike many plant foods, rhubarb’s nutritional benefits increase with a bit of cooking, so steam or roast until tender before adding it to your NutriBlast.
- High in fiber, which is associated with lower cholesterol levels and decreased instances of heart disease.
- Natural laxative
- May reduce cancer risk
Look for long thin stalks that are of deep pink or red color. The larger and greener the stalk, the more tart the taste of the fruit, and the less tender the texture. Refrigerate the stalks in an airtight plastic bag or cloth sack, and prepare quickly; they generally do not last more than 3-5 days.
While it may not make you quite as buff as Popeye, spinach will give you a heavy dose of nutrients. Locked within its tender, delicious leaves are blood pressure reducing proteins called peptides, cancer fighting phytonutrients, and bone building molecules of vitamin K.
- Supports healthy vision
- Anti-cancer and antioxidant benefits
- May help ease constipation
- Contains bone-building vitamin K and calcium
Spinach leaves should be a vibrant, deep green. Never eat spinach that has yellowed or grown wilted or slimy. Do not wash spinach before storing in the refrigerator—it will rot very quickly! Instead, wrap bundles of leaves in a paper towel, and then place in a tight plastic bag.
Loosely resembling wild cabbage, spring greens are looser, darker, and slightly bitterer than other greens. If you’re not a fan of bitter tastes, don’t worry. The fruits in your NutriBlast will easily balance the greens’ flavors and you definitely don’t want to miss out on the wonderful dose of vitamin C, folic acid, and dietary fiber they provide.
- Helps detoxify and boost energy
Spring greens are frequently sold with other lettuces like radicchio in pre-washed salad bags. Feel free to experiment with these mixtures, or seek out loose spring greens in produce aisles or farmers’ markets. Look for smoother, darker leaves with no yellow areas. Store like other greens—wrap tightly once opened and use within 5 or so days.
Fava Bean Bissara
Enjoy the season’s creamiest crop in this delicate, yet complexly flavored North African bean dip. Fresh fava beans taste best, but they do take some effort to prepare. Here is a great step-by-step guide to the process.
You can also use dried beans. Soak dry beans overnight, rinse, and cover with water in a large pot over medium heat. Cook for roughly 1 hour until tender, skimming any foam that surfaces at the top of the cooking water. DO NOT add salt while cooking dried beans; it will prevent them from absorbing water. When cooked, strain in a colander, then remove outer layer.
If you’re strapped for time, you can use organic BPA-free canned fava beans. If you have trouble finding these beans at your local market, they might be sold under the name broad beans or field beans.
- 1 cup cooked fava beans prepared in any of the following ways:
- 2 lbs fresh beans in pods
- 1/2 lb dried fava beans
- 1 cup organic canned fava beans
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 2 cloves of roasted, sautéed, or raw garlic
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp paprika
- 2-3 tbs olive oil
- 4 sprigs of fresh parsley
Add all ingredients to the Short Cup and extract with the Extractor Blade until smooth. Serve with whole wheat pita, pita chips, crackers, or raw vegetables.