Spring into Good Nutrition

Take advantage of natures healthy treats this season.

Lara Rondinelli By Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE

Spring has arrived and there is no other season that can get you in the mood for good health. The fresh air, cool breezes, budding trees, and blooming flowers can be an inspiration to get outdoors and increase physical activity with walking, running, or biking. The arrival of Spring also brings an assortment of seasonal fruits and vegetables that offer fresh flavors and good nutrition. Take advantage of nature’s healthy treats this season – here are a few springtime favorites.

Asparagus – The peak season for asparagus is from April to June. Asparagus is part of the vegetable group and it contains very little carbohydrate; therefore it has little effect on blood sugar levels. It’s an excellent source of folic acid and is a good source of vitamin C. Just make sure to break or cut off the tough ends of the asparagus and rinse the spears thoroughly in cool water. Asparagus can be grilled, roasted, boiled, or steamed. Check out the easy recipe below and you are only minutes away from a mouthwatering asparagus side dish.

Asparagus

Artichokes - Artichokes contain a small amount of calories and carbohydrates, but they are full of fiber, vitamin C, folic acid, and magnesium. Artichokes intimidate some people, but they are easier to prepare than you might think. Follow these simple steps: Use a sharp knife to cut off the stem at the base and the top of the artichoke. Trim the tips of the remaining petals with kitchen shears. Boil artichoke in 3 inches of water in a covered pot until a petal near the center pulls out easily, about 25 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the artichokes. Drain well. Press the petals back and remove the small purple-tipped center petals.

Avocados - Avocados fall into the fat group according to the American Diabetes Association Exchange System, so they have little effect on blood sugar levels. However, avocados are full of monounsaturated fat, which is good fat for heart health. But, make sure to limit your portion size to about one fifth of an avocado to avoid extra calories. Lutein, a phytonutrient linked to eye health, is found in avocados. Lutein along with vitamin E, folate, potassium, and magnesium help make avocados a powerful health food. Store avocados at room temperature until they reach their full flavor and ripeness. A ripe avocado will yield to gentle pressure in the palm of your hand and once they are ripe they can be stored in the refrigerator. Avocados can taste great in salads and sandwiches or, of course, mashed as guacamole and added to tacos or served with vegetables.

Strawberries - Strawberries are a refreshing fruit and provide a good source of dietary fiber and vitamin C. Approximately one cup of strawberries contains 15 grams total carbohydrate. Do not wash berries or remove stems until ready to use. Strawberries can taste great right off the vine or with a little light whipped topping. They also make a great addition to cereal, yogurt, salad, or on top whole-wheat waffles. Stop at your local grocery store or farmer’s market today and pick up some of these Spring treats. Here is a quick and easy, but flavor-packed asparagus recipe.

Roasted Asparagus

Servings:
6
Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash asparagus and cut off ends. Coat a baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Place asparagus in baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
3. Bake 15 minutes.

Nutrition Information: 53 Calories, 4g Total Fat, 1g Saturated Fat, 5mg Cholesterol, 91mg Sodium, 2g Total Carbohydrate, 1g Dietary Fiber, 1g Sugars, 3g Protein

Copyright © American Diabetes Association from Healthy Calendar Diabetic Cooking. Reprinted with permission from The American Diabetes Association. To order this book, please call 1-800-232-6733 or order online at http://store.diabetes.org/.

Read Lara's bio here.

Read more of Lara Rondinelli's columns.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

Last Modified Date: November 28, 2012

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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