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  • Laren Rusin

Spring has sprung! 5 fresh foods to focus on

The sun is getting warmer, and spring is around the corner. During this time of year, I start to yearn for fresh foods and wait every day for things to turn green, and buds to pop open. Here are 5 nutrient-rich foods to look for that your local farmers and stores should be carrying fresh:

1. Greens: while this winter has had its very cold moments, many growers are using greenhouses and row covers to keep cold-weather crops growing all year. Kales, collards, and some kinds of spinach can grow all winter with a little help, and make it to you fresh and in season. These greens are loaded with antioxidants, which make them powerhouses in cancer prevention. They’re also loaded with vitamins A, C, E, K, and folate. Mustards and bok choy also have other B vitamins. Dark leafy greens are great for bone health, gut health, and are low in calories and glycemic load, so they don’t spike blood sugar. Try them raw in a salad, cooked (steam-saute is a great way to tenderize the greens but still save all the nutrients. Make sure you use a good-quality oil!), or throw some in a smoothie or soup, or use a leap as a wrap around a sandwich.

2. Broccoli and Cauliflower: more of the cruciferous vegetables, these can be overwintered, or grown in greenhouses. These veggies have many of the same benefits as your dark leafy greens-high in the vitamins A, C, E, K, high in fiber, and they contain glucosinolates and indole-3-carbinol, both of which have been shown to ward off cancer!

3. Winter squash: These include the squashes with harder peels, which make them good for storage. Pumpkin, butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash are all great sources of alpha and beta carotene, which converts to vitamin A, as well as fiber. They are naturally sweet and make great soups or additions to roasted vegetables. Save the seeds and roast them over low heat for a tasty snack!

4. Apples: while apples were harvested in the fall, many varieties store well into the next year. It’s a great time to try alternative varieties you might not be used to, like Pinova or Black Arkansas, two varieties that store well over winter. Apples are high in fiber, flavonoids, and antioxidants that help you fight cancer and keep the doctor away!

5. Mushrooms: mushrooms are a great source of protein (especially in vegetarian diets), and full of potassium, selenium, copper, and vitamins B and D. Certain varieties can also help boost immune function and lower inflammation. If you don’t cook them soon after buying, keep them in a paper bag in the fridge-the crisper drawer is too moist!

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