Want to spruce up your diet with tasty seasonal foods? Even though the snow is not yet gone and the temperatures haven’t warmed up, you can give spring a kick-start in terms of the foods you choose. This article by Liz Applegate, included in April 2010’s issue of Runner’s World magazine, will surely provide you with some ideas.
Crisp asparagus, tender greens, delicious artichokes- spring has arrived in the produce aisle. Loaded with nutrients, these fresh fruits and veggies can revitalize your running. If you’re lucky enough to live near a farmers’ market, pay it a visit. Not only does it sell local, just-harvested produce, but it may also carry some harder-to-find items, such as green garlic and English peas. Here’s how to make the most of spring’s bounty no matter where you shop.
Green Garlic —> A young, milder-tasting version of the white globes, green garlic has petite bulbs and stemlike shoots that contain ajoene, a compound that may protect against heart disease. Eat it —> Chop and add to salads, or saute with other veggies for garlic flavor.
Baby Greens —> Two cups of young Romaine, arugula, and other greens pack 140 percent of your Daily Value (DV) for bone-building vitamin K. Greens also contain phytonutrients that speed recovery. Eat it —> Use in salads and sandwiches; wilt slightly and top with grilled fish.
Strawberries —> These red berries have only 45 calories per cup, but supply 130% of the DV for vitamin C, a potent antioxidant. They also contain the phytonutrient ellagic-acid, which is known for its cancer-fighting power. Eat it —> Add to cereal or blend with kefir for a smoothie.
Asparagus —> Just one cup of steamed asparagus supplies 65% of your daily folate needs. Runners often don’t get enough of this important B vitamin, and low intake has been shown to cause anemia and reduce endurance. Eat it —> Add raw asparagus tips to salads, or use in a veggie and tofu stir-fry.
English Peas —> Sweet green peas provide 40% of our DV for manganese, a mineral that’s crucial for endurance. Studies show that it also helps people adapt to exercise at high altitude. Eat it —> Microwave or steam freshly shelled peas. Add raw to a salad, or use in a pasta dish along with chicken and herbs.
Artichokes —>One medium artichoke has only 60 calories, but contains over 25% of your DV for fiber and vitamin C. Research suggests that a vitamin C-rich diet may help asthma-sufferers breathe easier. Eat it —> Steam for about 30 minutes, or until the leaves easily pull off.
Radishes —> This vegetable is actually a cousin to broccoli, and comes in multiple colors, including red, and deep purple. Radishes contain antioxidant compounds called indoles, which are potent cancer fighters. They also provide a good dose of vitamin C. Eat it —> Add slices of radishes to cold pasta dishes. The greens are also edible and add peppery flavor to soups.
Mint —> This refreshing garden staple abundant in the spring, is a rich source of phytonutrients called monterpenes. Scientists think that these compounds have the potential to help ward off certain types of cancer. Eat it —> Add peppermint or wintergreen leaves to iced tea and lemonade. Toss roughly chopped mint leaves with a baby green salad or fruit salad.