There's so much more to healthy eating than just baby carrots and celery dipped in hummus. Spring is the perfect time to step up your recipe game with fresh produce—you know you can do better than pre-cut veggies in a plastic bag. With all the seasonal produce hitting farmers' markets, you'll want leave with your arms full of fresh food. We've got three easy ideas to get you started.
Spice Up the Plain Jane Orange
There's nothing like a ripe, sweet orange on a hot day, and you can feel good about munching on slices of this juicy fruit. Oranges are packed with dietary fiber and vitamins A, B6, and C. You're probably missing out on other kinds of oranges just waiting for you to pick them up—the Valencia orange, navel orange, blood orange, the Seville orange, and even more if you count mandarins. Even with all those options, the orange might come in second place to something more exotic, such as a lychee or mango (also springtime fruits).
Fresh idea: You can spice up the classic orange with a sprinkling of smoked paprika, which adds even more vitamin A and iron to the mix. Shake a little cayenne pepper on top (the sweet and spicy contrast is so interesting) and the vitamin A will skyrocket!
Don't Be Intimidated by the Artichoke
So many people are afraid of artichokes—for real. Artichokes are big green things with spiky leaves, after all. And how the heck do you eat them, anyway? Well, we've got 20 Ways to Eat Artichokes, actually. So once you master how to make them yourself, you'll never be able to stop eating them. And you never should, because this springtime veggie offers you loads of dietary fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants—all of which can help prevent heart disease and cancer. Not to mention, artichokes are low and calories and so filling (thanks, fiber!) that they are practically a meal themselves.
Fresh idea: Simply steam or boil an artichoke for about 20 minutes or until the outer leaves peel off easily. Hold your leaf, which is loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients, by the thorny side and scrape your teeth down. If the leaf "flesh" doesn't scrape off easily, then the artichoke needs more cooking time.
Dip the leaves in a quick lemon-butter sauce for added flavor. Be mindful not to swallow any thorns. Once you get close to the center, scoop out the inedible furry bit in the middle with a spoon. The part underneath that is the heart—the tastiest part.
How to Eat the Whole Herb: Fennel Demystified
You might think of this spring produce as a cooked side dish of fennel bulb (it's often paired with fish dishes) or thinly sliced on salads, but do you even know what fennel looks like? You've probably walked right past it at the grocery store. Remember that you can eat everything from the feathery leaves (they taste like licorice!) right down to the core of the bulb. Fennel is high in vitamin C and fiber, and it contains a good mix of calcium, magnesium, and iron as well.
Fresh idea: After washing the bulb, chop it into bite-size pieces like you would celery. Toss it in a bowl of garden-fresh greens. Drizzle it with extra-virgin olive oil and add a sprinkling of salt and pepper. You've got yourself an exotic salad snack that's quick, easy, and rich in vitamins.