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Spring veggies tasty, healthful

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 Well, spring has finally arrived! Even though the air is still a bit chilly, spring produce is making its way to supermarkets and farmers markets. Spring produce features an array of bright colors, textures and tastes with the power-packed, disease-fighting phytonutrients as an added benefit.

Enjoy a wide variety of produce each day to receive hundreds of these nutrients that protect your health. Remember to follow the USDA MyPyramid guidelines to consume 1.5 to 2 cups of fruits and 2-3 cups of vegetables each day. Two cups of raw, leafy greens count as a one-cup serving.

Choose several of these tasty options to brighten your table and add variety to your spring menus.

Artichokes — Each medium artichoke provides about 10 grams of fiber, vitamins A, C and B, magnesium and potassium. To steam, trim an inch or two from the tips of the leaves and remove the stem. Use a vegetable steamer and cook over boiling water for about 25 minutes until tender. Add juice from half of a lemon to prevent darkening. Dip the bottom of the leaves into a light sauce, like a nonfat Greek yogurt seasoned with garlic, mustard and lemon.

Asparagus — Choose asparagus that has dry, tightly closed tips; the thinner stalks are also more tender. Gently break off the tough ends. Steam, roast or grill, seasoned with a balsamic or raspberry vinaigrette with some freshly ground black pepper.

Baby greens — Packed with vitamins, iron and antioxidants, baby greens are a true taste treat. Enjoy a salad with a mixture of spinach, endive, field-mix greens, arugula and more. Sprinkle with fresh walnuts, Craisins, olives, cherry tomatoes and some feta cheese. Toss with a lemony vinaigrette.

Carrots — Loaded with beta-carotene and fiber, carrots can dress up salads, soups, pasta and casseroles — even muffins! Shred carrots into your favorite salad or muffin batter. Their fine texture, bright color and sweet taste add variety to so many recipes.

Sweet peas — These sweet little legumes are a good source of fiber and protein. Add lightly cooked peas to casseroles, salads and stir fries. Steam or microwave just for a few minutes to keep peas a pretty, bright green.

Radishes — These cruciferous vegetables are much like broccoli in the cancer-fighting compounds that they provide. Radishes add a pungent, snappy flavor to salads and salsas. Shred some radishes into a bowl of diced peaches, red onions and tomatoes; toss with lime juice, a pinch of salt and pepper and fresh herbs like tarragon.

Rhubarb —This tart vegetable is a great source of fiber, vitamin C and the phytonutrient lutein. The red hue comes from anthocyanins, which help fight age-related eye disease and certain cancers. Simmer rhubarb with strawberries, pineapple or orange juice instead of sugar or other added nutrients.

Strawberries — Whether eaten plain, as a dessert or with fresh greens, strawberries are rich in vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants that may help prevent cancers of the skin, bladder, lung and esophagus.

Try this quick and tasty spring salad.

To learn about our educational programs, visit the Cornell Cooperative Extension website at

Kathy Dischner is a registered dietitian and nutrition team coordinator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of     Cayuga and Onondaga counties



Nutty asparagus salad

Cut the cooked asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Place in a bowl; add the walnuts, orange sections, and salad greens. In a small bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients and mix well. Add dressing to the salad and toss well.


• 1 pound fresh asparagus, steamed for about 5 minutes (until crisp-tender)

• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

• 2 oranges, peeled and separated into sections

• 3 cups mixed salad greens


• 2 tablespoons oil

• 2 tablespoons vinegar

• 2 tablespoons orange juice

• 2 teaspoons sugar

• Pepper to taste


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