Seasonal Eats : Spring Superfoods in BC

Fresh Asparagus

(Healthcastle.com) Here at HealthCastle Fraser Valley we know that superfoods don't have to be exotic to be packed with nutrients, and every season brings a new batch to spice up the kitchen. Find out why including in season produce is so important and what to pick  up from the produce aisle this Spring. 

Why In Season? 

Buying in season and local produce doesn't just support local farmers (they're small businesses too!), it is almost always more nutritious as well. There is the benefit of optimal growing conditions which makes for more flavourful and nutrient packed fruits and veggies whether it is local or imported. As well, many smaller local farms offering in season foods may not be able to afford to be certified organic but still follow organic practices that pump up the nutrients of their soil, and thus bring you more nutritious produce. Not only are vitamin and mineral contents thought to be superior, but the phytonutrients (natural compounds in plant foods that have disease prevention and anti-oxidant capacity) too!

The difference in phytonutrient content is often very visible. Most of the most well studied phytonutrients are anti-oxidants that also provide colour to our fruits and veggies. Think the dark purple of eggplant or cabbage, red in peppers or tomatoes and dark green in spinach, kale and asparagus. When these veggies are pale, it means they have less of these potent phytonutrients. When they are in their prime- bright and colourful - we know that they are packed with exactly what our bodies need. We've all seen the sad winter tomato; pale, mealy and a shadow of the beautiful greenhouse or summer versions. So now you know that it is not just bland in taste, but doesn't pack much of a nutrient punch as its in season counterparts either.  

Spring Treats In BC

Fruits

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Rhubarb

Vegetables

  • Asparagus
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Salad greens (greenhouse and hardier outdoor greens)
  • Kohlrabi
  • Greenhouse tomatoes 
  • Certain Mushrooms
  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Pea and Sunflower shoots
  • Greenhouse cucumbers
  • Greenhouse eggplants
  • Peas

Herbs

  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Chervil

Stay up to date on what's in season through these great sites: 

Buy Local Eat Natural

Get Local BC

BC Association of Farmer's Markets

Spring Flavours

Spring flavours are often bright but delicate. The best way to showcase them is often very simply! Many spring veggies taste wonderful cooked lightly and tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper. Asparagus is perhaps the best example of this, and my favourite way to serve it is grilled. Nothing beats the slightly smoky flavour and tender crisp bite. While you can get it all year round now, it is never near as tender or bursting with flavour as it is during the Spring. 

To grill asparagus: Toss 1 bunch of asparagus with 1 tbsp of olive oil, salt and generous helping of pepper. Place on a preheated grill (temperature is not to fussy, whatever you have on for the rest of your meal can work). Grill, turning once or twice until asparagus is just starting to shrink but is still a bit crisp in the centre. Resist the urge to turn too often so you can get those beautiful char marks and all the smoky flavour that comes with them! Squeeze a wedge of lemon over just before serving. 

What is your favourite Spring treat and how do you serve it at home? Share with us in the comments below!

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HealthCastle, founded in 1997, is the largest online nutrition community run by Registered Dietitians. Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or dietitian. Information and statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.