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Insider’s Viewpoint: Keeping it Spring Fresh

 

April 1, 2014
 

This is an exciting time in the veggie world, especially in the cold weather areas of our country! Although fresh, frozen and canned make great and nutritious eating all year, there is something special about the first picks of the spring! But let’s think about ways to select them for their freshness and prepare them for their taste!

 

Asparagus

Selection > This is a veggie that needs to stand up straight (not limp) with a tight and dry tip.

 

Storage > Unless using it immediately, asparagus should be covered and stored in the refrigerator. And knowing how to prepare it can mean getting more good eating and less waste.

 

Prep > There is a “natural” snap or cut point but below that point, use a potato peeler or small knife to gently peel away the tougher outer stalk and expose the tender goodness. As a veggie, asparagus rates as a top choice for roasting, grilling, steaming (or microwaving) or enjoying it raw. The peeled ends can be cut and added to stir-fry or used for soup, but save the tender tips for a “foodie touch” to your dishes.

 

Serve as a vegetable, slice and add to other vegetables to give a spring lift to your mixture, top grilled sandwiches (great open faced), or add to wraps. Slicing on the base is another simple tip that puts some added glamour into this great veggie.

 

Spring Greens
From butter lettuce to baby greens to new spinach, there is magic in spring greens that adds flavor, nutrition and color to a meal.

Selection > Select greens that are alert, not wilted! Rinse and wash them in a colander with several changes of cold water.

 

Storage > If you aren’t using greens immediately, remove any clinging water and store in a plastic bag or “lettuce bowl” that allows the leaves to stay away from liquid! The exception is living lettuce, which is usually packaged to stay fresh – wash just before using.

 

Prep > What can you do to put excitement into greens? Salads are an obvious choice but try adding some fresh sliced spring strawberries, cranberries, walnuts and a light balsamic dressing. A hint of feta or other crumbled cheese adds another food group! Baby spinach can go right from the colander to the pan – try topping it with a dash of vinegar. And of course tender greens on your sandwiches or wraps adds color and flavor while increasing veggie intake! Also try hummus on a whole grain tortilla or wrap with spinach or baby greens.

 

Vidalia Onions
Vidalia onions have a short season but are a sweet addition that adds a unique flavor raw or cooked. This is a veggie that needs to breathe so bring them home to a cool room temperature in a well-ventilated area (not touching other foods).

Storage & Selection > Vidalia Onion : Nutrition. Selection. Storage

 

Fun Facts

  • The panty hose idea works for Vidalia onions.
  • Vidalia onions were first grown near Vidalia, Georgia, and were named Georgia’s official state vegetable in 1990.
 
 

Judy Dodd, MS, RDN, LDN
Community Relations Corporate Nutritionist
Giant Eagle

 
 
 
 
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