Eating a rainbow of colors isn’t just fun. Different colored fruits and vegetables contain different nutrients, so eating a little of each color each day can help ensure you’re getting the right essential vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (plant chemicals that help fight and prevent disease) in your diet.
While you can generally find most mainstay fruits and veggies at the grocery story any time of year, certain produce is in season during spring. Take advantage of this time of year to put some color into your diet. Here are some of the best spring produce picks to look for this season:
Rainbow chard: Why not start with the vegetable that has "rainbow" in its name? Rainbow chard is a leafy green with colorful stalks and is packed full of nutrients like vitamins C and K, potassium and iron. It makes a great substitution for spinach or kale in any recipe.
Rhubarb: This unique vegetable is only in season for a short time in spring, so get it while you can. Rhubarb is a good source of magnesium, fiber, vitamins C and K, calcium, potassium and manganese. Just be sure to steer clear of the leaves themselves, as they are high in toxic oxalic acid.
Arugula: A member of the cabbage family, arugula is a leafy green with a bitter, peppery flavor and is delicious in both hot dishes like soups or on pizza, or tossed in a fresh salad. Just a half cup of arugula leaves is packed with plenty nutrients, including folate, vitamins A, C, K and the antioxidant lutein, which helps keep your eyes, skin and heart healthy.
Asparagus: Perfect for grilling or roasting, asparagus is high in fiber and a good source of iron, B vitamins and vitamin C. While you can find asparagus year-round, you’ll get the freshest (and most affordable) green spears from March through June.
Peas: A variety of fresh peas, including sugar snap peas, snow peas and green peas, are at their peak April through July. These legumes are high in fiber and make a good source of plant protein. Depending on the variety you choose, you’ll also get a dose of B vitamins, zinc and vitamin C. Toss some peas in your salad or serve as a side dish.
Radishes: This root vegetable is full of flavor with very few calories. One cup of sliced red radishes contains 30 percent of your daily vitamin C and just 25 calories. Look for radishes that are rich in color, and don’t skip out on the green tops, which add a delicious peppery taste to salads or cooked dishes.
Put a spring twist on dinner with this recipe for grilled pork chops with rhubarb chutney.
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
2 cups coarsely chopped rhubarb (about 1/2 pound)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/3 cup red currant jelly
1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
4 (6-ounce) bone in center cut pork chops (about 1/4 inch thick)
Thinly sliced green onions (optional)
To prepare chutney, combine first four ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add rhubarb, cranberries, green onions, salt and red pepper; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes or until rhubarb is tender. Spoon into a bowl; cover and chill at least 2 hours. Discard cinnamon stick.
To prepare pork, combine jelly and mustard in a small bowl; set aside. Combine 1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper, and cumin; rub evenly over pork. Place pork on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness, basting occasionally with jelly mixture. Serve pork with chutney; sprinkle with green onions (optional).