What's going to be in season?After a winter-full of root vegetables and starch, there is nothing like the prospect of fresh farmers' market finds come spring. As the weather continues to warm, fill your environmentally sustainable carryalls with these seven delicious farmers' market eats, from spinach and rhubarb to snap peas and more.
(Zeel reports back from the northeast. Check what's fresh at your local farmers' market here.)
Spinach: Available early May to early July
Get your daily dose of, well, nearly everything. Spinach, a "nutritional powerhouse," contains high levels of vitamins A, C and K as well as folate, protein, iron and magnesium. While this dark leafy green was formerly made popular for its use in mainstream meals like salads and soups and pasta, more recently, it's been making its way into smoothies and juices while still in raw form. Drink up!
Rhubarb: Available late May to late August
Low in calories and high in water content, rhubarb is best when purchased at the beginning of the season and makes a wonderful addition to any sweet summer pie for its complementary tart flavor. Look for brightly colored stalks that feel crisp to the touch; split or stringy rhubarb may be a sign that it's past its due. And remember: Never eat the leaves! Simply chop and toss.
Snap Peas: Available early June through fall
Consumed plain or raw, stir-fried in a wok or dipped in hummus, snap peas are one of nature's finest treasures. Not only are they high in vitamins C and K and loaded with fiber, they're also scant in calories and make for a delicious spring snack when on the go.
Strawberries: Available early to late June
These brightly hued berries are one of the richest sources of vitamin C around, each serving which contains more than 100 percent of the recommended daily value (take that, oranges)! To stock up on fresh, delicious strawberries, look for crates that appear firm and free of fuzzy mold (check beneath the top layer). To maintain freshness, rinse right before you eat them.
Radishes: Available early May through fall
This ultra low-calorie veggie makes a wonderful addition to light salads and sandwiches and is available in several varieties. Stock up now, and eat up later with this simple storage process: separate the tops, rinse in cold water, and wrap in paper towels. When bagged up and left in the refrigerator, radishes can keep their crunch for more than a week!
Broccoli: Available late May through fall
With more vitamin C than an orange and more calcium than a glass of milk, Broccoli may be the ultimate farmers' market superfood. Ward off spring colds with this cruciferous, immune system-boosting vegetable. For the freshest of the bunch, avoid any broccoli that looks as though it is yellowing or withered.
Tomatoes: Available early June through fall
Delicious and nutritious, tomatoes contain nearly half of the recommended daily dose of vitamin C, along with large amounts of potassium and vitamin A. Buyer beware: A ripe tomato doesn't last long and stands to lose its flavor and firmness only days after purchase. Look for those that are tender and not overly soft, and leave them out on the counter until you're ready to eat them.