Spring Greens…Irish and Otherwise

About this time of year, in many parts of the world, things are starting to turn glorious shades of green. Tender young shoots are coming up and making the world seem brighter and more cheerful after a long winter of cold and gray.

These spring shoots are filled with nutrients, replenishing the critters that eat it after months of getting by.

We are subject to the limitations of foraging for our food, thank goodness. Most of us simply go to the grocery store and fill the cart. And these days we have fewer and fewer things that are out of season as our markets fly in produce from the southern hemisphere during our cold months.

But still, this is a time to notice what is coming to the market that you haven’t seen in a while. It is also a good opportunity to mix up your eating routine, to keep from boredom. Time to brighten up your taste buds!

I notice that when it is cold out I am much less inclined to want to eat things like salad. During the winter I will eat more cooked vegetables, naturally wanting warm foods to keep my body warm.

One of my favorite spring vegetables is asparagus…I like it, steamed and broiled.

If you haven’t tried broiled asparagus, check it out. It is super easy, healthy, fast to prepare and tastes great!

Preheat the oven

Wash the asparagus and cut off the woody parts of the stems.

Place the spears on a cookie sheet of broiler pan. They should be only one layer thick.

In a small bowl mix a little olive oil (1-2 T) and spices.

With a basting brush, brush a light coat of the oil over the asparagus.

Place under the broiler.

Depending on the diameter of the spears, cook approx 5 -10 minutes.

Serve the asparagus hot.

Try a variety of spices…for an herby taste, try Herbs du Provence.

Garlic powder and a little sea salt is another favorite.

Or try a mixed seasoning like Spike.

Experiment and you will no doubt find some that you especially like.

I have also prepared the asparagus this way on the grill…but we still have snow on the ground here, so I don’t think I will try it right now!

I like asparagus best when the spears are narrow in diameter…they are at their most tender, and I even like them raw. Spring is the best time to find this younger growth…and the price is usually very good.

Spring is the perfect time to begin to transition to fresh, crisp, raw vegetables. After months of cooked vegetables, I love to notice the sweetness in a raw carrot, or even a mushroom. Salads at this time of year just taste better!

Make a big salad with lots of different textures and tastes—lettuce alone is just boring

People tend to be creatures of habit. We tend to buy the exact same things over and over. It is time to break out of the rut and try some new spring produce. Get at least 2 different types of lettuce and a variety of things to put in your salad. You will be amazed at the flavors and satisfaction a salad can provide when it is more than a slab of lettuce and maybe a slice of tomato.

To save time, because I know time is precious and just thinking about new foods takes time too, you can look to see if your market has any of the prepared vegetables. Maybe baby carrots or sugar snap peas in a bag…they make a great snack, too…sweet taste with lots of fiber and vitamins.

If you are cooking for just yourself or for only two, getting a variety of salad vegetables may seem like you can’t possibly eat them all. In that case buy a little more than you think you can eat and get the variety in by buying different vegetables each trip to the market. Or, if you have friends who are single, see if any of them would be willing to split the vegetables with you. That allows you both to have more variety… and reduce the risk it will spoil in the fridge because you can’t eat it all.

Lettuce may be the base ingredient of salads, but that doesn’t mean iceberg which has very little nutritional value or flavor. Experiment with the lettuce type and see if there is one that you especially like. These days it is easy to get different lettuces…you can even get pre-washed “Spring Mix” and other combinations of lettuces, making having a salad easy AND delicious.

Eating more vegetables is one of the best things you can do for your health…not just for your waistline. So, if you struggle to eat your veggies, here are some facts to keep in mind:

People who eat more vegetables tend to have:

  • Better cognitive function as they get older
  • Lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Lower rates of most types of cancer
  • Fewer problems with disorders caused by inflammation
  • Protection from macular degeneration

Of course vegetables are also low in calories…so you can eat a lot of them without gaining weight. While the “official” recommendation by the US government is for us to eat 5 servings of vegetables a day, many holistic healers suggest you double that. You just can’t overdo when it comes to eating your veggies!

Get some great fresh, spring green into your meals and you might just find you have an extra “spring” in your step, too!

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