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Go fresh with spring vegetables

Asparagus and Tender Greens Salad
Asparagus and Tender Greens Salad - Contributed

Foodwise with Kerri Robichaud, RD

The weather is finally changing here in the Maritimes, and seasonal vegetables are arriving at our local stores. Buying vegetables that are in season is not only a great way to save money on fresh produce, it’s usually also when it tastes the best!

As a dietitian, I encourage my clients to fill half of their plate with vegetables, preferably two kinds, and to include one dark orange and one green vegetable each day. Some days, this little tip is easier said than done! We often stick to buying the same items each time we go to the grocery store, and as a result we may not be getting a wide variety of vegetables in our diets – which means we may be missing out on delicious (and nutritious) vegetables just because we are not as familiar with them as we are with our “regulars.”

Choosing vegetables that are in season is a way to create variety on your plate, and may give you and your family the opportunity to try a vegetable that you haven’t tasted before.

Spring and early summer (April – June) in Atlantic Canada is the time for seasonal greens such as kale and spinach, along with vegetables like fiddlehead ferns (fiddleheads) and asparagus. One thing to note is that greens can now be found on the grocery store shelves year round, but in the early summer there are more locally grown options for seasonal greens like kale, spinach, beet greens and others.

Many Maritimers look forward each year to eating fiddleheads for a short time in the spring. Fiddleheads are available right now, and these curly little ferns are a traditional east coast specialty, although they actually grow across Canada. Fiddleheads are a source of vitamins A & C, protein & fibre – making them a small but mighty nutrition powerhouse. It is important to note that fiddleheads should not be eaten undercooked or raw. It’s best to boil or steam them to ensure they are fully cooked before using them in a recipe – even if you will be sautéing or baking them as part of the recipe. Once they are cooked, season fiddleheads how you like and serve them along with your favourite meal, letting them count toward your one serving of dark green vegetables for the day. Get them while you can, their season is short!

Asparagus is another great fresh vegetable at this time of year. These green spears are an excellent source of folate and vitamin K, and they are also a source of vitamins E and C along with fibre and protein.  When choosing asparagus spears, look for ones that are straight, crisp and have tight green or purple tips. Asparagus can be served raw, but it is most commonly cooked and then served either warm or cold. You may consider steaming asparagus, grilling it on the barbeque, or boiling it and then cooling it for a salad, like the Asparagus and Tender Greens Salad below. As with fiddleheads, asparagus counts as your daily serving of dark green vegetables.

By choosing more vegetables that are in season, you can create a natural trend of variety on your plate without putting in too much extra effort. This spring, look for produce that is in season, and get creative with including it as part of your meals.

Asparagus and Tender Greens Salad

Ingredients:

1 bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut into thirds crosswise

1 shallot, minced

1 tbsp (15 mL) cider vinegar

1 tsp (5 mL) Dijon mustard

3 tbsp (45 mL) PC Black Label 100% pure roasted almond oil

3 tbsp (45 mL) extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp (2 mL) salt

¼ tsp (1 mL) freshly ground black pepper

4 cups (1 L) baby arugula

1 small head Boston or butter lettuce, tender interior leaves only, torn in bite size pieces (2-1/2 cups/625 mL)

1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh tarragon

Instructions

  1. In saucepan of boiling salted water, cook asparagus for 2 to 4 minutes or until tender-crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain. Place on paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together shallot, vinegar and mustard. Whisking constantly, drizzle in almond oil and olive oil. Season with half of each salt and pepper.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together asparagus, arugula, lettuce, tarragon, and remaining salt and pepper. Add dressing; toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 Servings

Per serving: 150 calories, fat 14 g, sodium 230 mg, carbohydrate 3 g, fibre 1 g, protein 2 g

Recipe Source: pc.ca

Tip: To easily transform this salad into a main course, alter the proportions to serve four and top each with a poached egg.

Kerri Robichaud is a Registered Dietitian with Atlantic Superstore in Amherst, Nova Scotia.

Have a nutrition question? Want to book an appointment or shop with the dietitian? Book online at www.atlanticsuperstore/dietitians or contact me by phone at (506) 866-2115 or by email at kerri.robichaud2@loblaw.ca.

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