Happy spring everyone! I am so glad we can finally say that winter is behind us, per the calendar at least. I know that many of us still have several weeks of winter weather ahead of us. If you have been following along with my blog you know that I have talked about seasonal foods before. In December I highlighted Foods That Are in Season During the Winter. Now that it’s officially spring let’s take a look at foods that are in season during spring time.
What Does “In Season” Mean?
When I talk about fruits and vegetables that are in season I am talking about those that are picked ripe and fresh, close to where you live. You can read more about what seasonal foods are in my article titled, Eating in Season.
I live in Illinois, in the Midwest, so the foods that are in season by me may be different from the foods that are in season by you. It all depends on where you live.
In Illinois, there are literally only about 8 foods that are considered in season during the winter. So when spring comes, it is a glorious thing to have so many more options for seasonal foods! Let’s take a look at some of the foods that are in season now in Illinois.
Foods in Season During Spring and Their Health Benefits
Broccoli is considered in season in Illinois late March through April and comes into season again June through October. If you haven’t learned to love broccoli yet, I encourage you to try it prepared/cooked different ways. I especially love broccoli when it is placed into boiling water for a short time (about 3-5 minutes); this brings out its bright green color and stays somewhat crisp. I also enjoy broccoli when roasted in the oven with some olive oil and a touch of salt. It is also really enjoyable when eaten raw with a healthy ranch dip.
A half cup of boiled broccoli has about 27 calories, 5.6 gm carbohydrate, 2.5 gm fiber, 31 mg calcium, 16 mg magnesium, 52 mg phosphorus, 229 mg potassium, 50 mg vitamin C, 84 mcg folate, and 60 mcg vitamin A. Additionally, 1/2 cup boiled broccoli provides 725 mcg beta carotene, 842 mcg lutein and zeaxanthin and 110 mcg vitamin K among other nutrients.
Early April is when spinach comes into season here. Spinach remains in season through June and is also considered in season in Illinois from September though November.
Spinach has become a regular part of my diet. I eat is nearly every day by putting it in my morning omelet, on my sandwiches and I also mix it into my salads. If you are not a fan of cooked spinach I encourage you to try it raw. I think raw spinach has a milder flavor than when its cooked.
Spinach’s bright green color indicates that its full of good nutrition. In fact, I add spinach to our mint milkshakes (my own spinoff of the famous Shamrock Shake) to add a natural source of green color to it. Check out the recipe if you are interested in trying it! (Don’t worry, you won’t taste the spinach in this delicious treat).
One cup of raw spinach has about 7 calories, 1 gm carbohydrate, 30 mg calcium, 24 mg magnesium, 15 mg phosphorus, 167 mg potassium, 8 mg vitamin C, 58 mcg folate, 6 mg choline, 31 mg betaine, 141 mcg vitamin A, 1690 mcg beta carotene, 3660 mcg lutein and zeaxanthin and 145 mcg vitamin K.
By late April asparagus is in season and remains in season through June. This vegetable is another one that may require experimenting with cooking to figure out how you enjoy it best. Once you figure it out, asparagus is very enjoyable and complements many main dishes.
If you are used to seeing mushy, overcooked asparagus, try cooking it for a shorter time so that it stays crisp. Or if you are turned off by the fibrous and difficult to chew stems, be sure to trim them and toss them out (or put into your compost pile). One of the best tricks I know for asparagus is to snap the ends off with my hands; the point at which it snaps easiest is usually right at the dividing point between what is edible and what needs to be composted.
I like to cook asparagus by either sautéing in a pan with other vegetables, or by placing in boiling water for 5 minutes.
One half cup cooked asparagus has about 20 calories, 2 gm protein, 3.7 gm carbohydrate, 2 gm fiber, 21 mg calcium, 13 mg magnesium, 49 mg phosphorus, 202 mg potassium, 5 mcg selenium, 7 mg vitamin C, 134 mcg folate, 24 mg choline, 45 mcg vitamin A, 544 mcg beta carotene, 27 mcg lycopene, 694 mcg lutein and zeaxanthin and 46 mcg vitamin K.
Cherries are in season by early May and are available through July. I love seeing cherries in the grocery stores when they are back in season! Cherries are so good eaten fresh but can also be used to put into baked goods or smoothies.
One half cup of cherries (without pits) provides 49 calories, 1 gm protein, 12.5 gm carbohydrate, 1.5 gm fiber, 10 mg calcium, 9 mg magnesium, 16 mg phosphorus, 171 mg potassium, 5 mg vitamin C, 3 mcg folate, 4.5 mg choline, 2 mcg vitamin A, 29 mcg beta carotene, 65 mcg lutein and zeaxanthin and 1.5 mcg vitamin K.
This tart vegetable is in season in Illinois from May through October. Rhubarb is so tart that is is usually cooked or baked with added sugar. My favorite rhubarb recipe is strawberry rhubarb pie; which has become an annual treat in my home during summer time. However, rhubarb can be made with savory dishes too, this is something I’d like to try myself.
When preparing rhubarb, you must remove and discard the leaves as they have high levels of oxalic acid. The stalks can be eaten raw or cooked.
One half cup diced rhubarb contains 13 calories, 2.8 gm carbohydrate, 1 gm fiber, 52 mg calcium, 7 mg magnesium, 9 mg phosphorus, 175 mg potassium, 10 mg vitamin C, 4 mcg folate, 4 mg choline, 3 mcg vitamin A, 38 mcg beta carotene, 103 mcg lutein and zeaxanthin and 17 mcg vitamin K.
There is a plethora of food that is in season during early June (the end of spring!). Among many other foods, this includes several berries such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, boysenberries and blackberries.
If I really had to pick I’d say that strawberries are my favorite berry out of them all. But I truly enjoy all berries. Berries are so good fresh and on their own as a snack. But adding berries to cereal, oatmeal, parfaits, yogurt or smoothies is a great way to boost your nutrient intake. Berries also go really well in baked goods and make excellent jams or preserves. Berries can be frozen while in season and still maintain most of their nutrient values.
One cup of mixed berries has 63 calories, 1 gm protein, 14.5 gm carbohydrate, 3 gm fiber, 15 mg calcium, 15 mg magnesium, 27 mg phosphorus, 128 mg potassium, 63 mg vitamin C, 11 mcg folate, 9 mg choline, 3 mcg vitamin A, 21 mcg beta carotene, 59 mcg lutein and zeaxanthin and 11 mcg vitamin K.
Which Foods are in Season by You During the Spring?
If you are not in Illinois you may be wondering how to figure out which foods are in season by you. Check out this seasonal foods guide to see which foods are local to you this season. This website allows you to search by state and also by month. Make sure you check on foods in season during all of spring. This includes the end of March, all of April and May, and also the beginning of June. You will find more and more options as you get closer to summer!