There are so many things I love about spring but one of my favorites is the fresh food that starts popping up. Here are some of my favorite spring superfoods:
Fiddleheads—The young, coiled shoots of ferns that arrive in spring, fiddleheads are packed with potassium, vitamin C, niacin, chlorophyll, and beta carotene. They are delicious sautéed in olive oil with a bit of sea salt.
Asparagus—Asparagus is a nutritional powerhouse replete with vitamins K, C, A, folate, B1, B2, niacin, B6, manganese, potassium, magnesium, and selenium. It helps to cleanse and strengthen the kidneys due to its high content of the mineral potassium. Potassium helps reduce water retention in the body and balance blood pressure. Its rutin content helps maintain healthy blood vessels and aids the prevention of hemorrhoids. Bigger is not better when it comes to asparagus. Choose thin stalks for maximum flavor without the woody texture of thicker stalks. To use, flex the stalk with both hands and it will naturally break off the woody portion of the plant. Use the top portion.
Dandelion Greens—Instead of hunting these greens down to eliminate them from your garden, it’s time to give dandelions the respect they deserve. They strengthen the liver and kidneys by helping to reduce the body’s toxic burden. Their innate bitterness stimulates digestive juices, helping to improve digestion, particularly of fats. Their bitter properties also encourage bowel regularity. Avoid picking dandelion greens near road sides or in areas that have been sprayed with pesticides. The small dandelion leaves are best, particularly early in the season as they are less bitter. Pan-fry them in a little water, olive oil, and garlic. Cover until cooked (usually just a few minutes) and remove from the heat. Add a touch of fresh lemon juice or balsamic vinegar and sprinkle a little sea salt over them for a delicious side-dish.
Peas—Peas are surprisingly nutritious. They are packed with important nutrients like vitamins A, B1, B6, C, K, folate, and beta carotene, as well as the minerals iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Their combination of nutrients helps to reduce harmful homocysteine levels in the body that have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Add peas to soups, stews, curries, or eat them fresh by snapping them out of their pods as a snack.
Discover the food that also reduces spring allergies and the overlooked super source of calcium…Nettles—Most people are not aware that this common garden weed is a powerhouse of nutrition and an excellent addition to soups or stews. Nettles are proven to reduce seasonal allergy symptoms (check out my book Allergy-Proof for more information), and reduce water retention, while strengthening the liver, adrenal glands (the glands that deal with stress and boost energy), and kidneys. If you’re picking them yourself, be sure to find an experienced herbal guide and to wear thick gloves. Cooking destroys the stinging part of the plant. It is an excellent addition to soups and stews.
Artichokes—Studies show that artichoke helps with irritable bowel syndrome, eases digestive disturbances, and lowers high blood pressure. Globe artichokes contain a phytonutrient called cynarin that supports healthy liver function and boosts the detoxification of harmful chemicals. Recent studies show that artichoke helps with digestive troubles, irritable bowel syndrome, and lowering high blood pressure. To cook artichokes, choose ones that feel heavy, trim off the outer leaves and use only the “heart” or inner portion.
Garlic—Revered as sacred by the ancient Egyptians, garlic has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and even anti-cancer properties. Over 1000 scientific studies uphold garlic’s healing status, due largely to its natural chemical component, allicin.
Rhubarb—Did you know that only one cup of cooked rhubarb contains 348 mg of calcium, making it one of the best sources of usable calcium? Due to its high calcium content, rhubarb helps maintain strong bones and teeth. But, it is also been shown to be helpful against some forms of cancer and for maintaining healthy heart function. Eat only the stems since the leaves are toxic. Stew rhubarb by cutting it into 1-inch pieces, adding a bit of water, and cooking until soft. Sweeten with a bit of stevia or honey.
Leeks—Compounds known as allyl sulphides found in leeks are protective against many types of cancer, especially prostate and colon cancers. The same compounds also reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, while lowering high blood pressure. Leeks also contain zeaxanthin and lutein—two phytonutrients that help prevent macular degeneration and other eye disorders. They are also high in vitamins A and K, and the minerals iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Copyright Michelle Schoffro Cook. Adapted from The Life Force Diet by Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, PhD, RNCP, ROHP.
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