Eating local foods that are in season is important for good health and wellness. Arizona produces a lot of vegetables and fruit all year long, including oranges, figs, and greens of all kinds. Below are three of the foods that are in season during the spring months.
Asparagus spears are harvested when the reach their harvest length of 6-8 inches. Asparagus is more perishable than most other veggies and should be wrapped in a damp paper towel before storing in the refrigerator, and it should be consumed within a few days of purchase. Asparagus contains inulin, which is a prebiotic helping the digestive tract. Other nutritional benefits in one cup of cooked asparagus include high amounts of vitamin K & B1, folate, and copper.
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable that has numerous health benefits and comes in many varieties including curly kale, ornamental kale, and dinosaur kale. Kale should be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag, making sure that as much air is removed from the bag as possible. They contain many anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antioxidant compounds. Kale also has cholesterol-lowering abilities, especially when kale is steamed rather than eaten raw. Other nutritional benefits in one cup of cooked kale include high amounts of vitamin K, A and C, as well as manganese and copper.
Onions come in a wide variety including the globe-shaped Maui Sweet & Walla Walla, as well as scallions and pearl onions. When choosing onions at the store, avoid any that have soft spots, mold, or are sprouting. Most onions should be stored at room temperature, away from light and heat, with the exception of green onions which need to be stored in the refrigerator. Most of onions flavonoids are in the fleshy part of the onion, so it is important to not over peel, as a lot of the benefits from the flavonoids will be lost. Other nutritional benefits in one cup of chopped, cooked onions include biotin, manganese, vitamin B6, and copper.
To get the most nutritional benefits from your foods, choose organic, local, in-season fruits and veggies whenever possible. A great resource for Arizonians is FillYourPlate.org, which has put together charts showing produce and their season for this state.