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Spring Food & Cooking

Posted May 14 2009 4:33pm


Have you taken a look around you? Spring is definitely approaching (if not already here) in most parts of the world!

As the temperatures rise and the seasons change we are seeing a wonderful and colorful array of fresh food taking over the produce section of the grocery stores or at your local Farmer's Market.
In the winter our bodies need warm robust food, where soups and stews are often cooked in many kitchens around the world. In Spring however, our bodies have different needs. In our household as soon as the sun shines and the temperatures soar to 20C, we look forward to being outdoors taking in the warm weather and outdoor activities. This often means I have less time and less passion to stand in the kitchen preparing time consuming dishes and there is also not much desire to eat warming foods. Is that how you are too?

Spring is the time when our bodies need a thorough cleansing from the more heavier foods and the sedentary lifestyle we had in the winter months. Our bodies now naturally craves for lighter and cleaner foods. Foods that are easy to prepare or even eaten raw, like fresh salads. Even nature moves into a season of fresh fruit and vegetables that are lighter and do not need much of preparations.

What I thought I would do in this post is list a few of the vegetables and fruits that are available in Spring. I have also made a few notes about different cooking methods and other tips I use when preparing some of these fruits and vegetables. If you want to learn more about the health benefits of each of the listed produce simply click on the link.

Maybe you can help me complete the list. In the comments section tell us about your favorite Spring foods and how you like to prepare them.

Vegetables

Asparagus
Look for firm thin stems with green to purplish tips that are closed. The stems should not be twisted of too fat. The ends of the stalks should not be too woody, although a little woodiness prevents the asparagus from drying. White asparagus has a milder sweeter taste than the green asparagus available. Asparagus should be used within a day or two after purchasing, otherwise it starts to loose flavor. Store in the fridge, wrapped in a damp paper towel. Place the asparagus in the back of the refrigerator away from any light, as folate is destroyed by exposure to air, heat or light.
Asparagus can be enjoyed hot or cold. It is not necessary to peel the green asparagus, however the white one require a good amount of peeling with a special asparagus peeler. Cut off the woody ends of the asparagus. You can steam, roast or gently saute them. Served with a vinaigrette they taste delectable.

Tomatoes
Choose tomatoes with a deep rich color, as the color is not only an indication of a delicious tasting tomato but also in many cases a sign it has a greater supply of the health-promoting nutrients.
Tomatoes are best eaten raw in salads, but you can also make a wonderful cold refreshing tomato soup called a Gazpacho. Of course there is the classic Italian dish - tomatoes and mozzarella, drizzled in extra virgine olive oil. Combined with chopped onions, garlic and chili you can make a salsa within minutes. Or a simple and quick cheese and tomato sandwich ummm.


Green Beans
The best place to buy green beans is at a Farmer's Market or a grocery store where they are sold loose. This way you can sort through them selecting the best quality. They should be smooth, have vibrant green color and free from brown spots pr bruises. Store unwashed fresh beans pods in a plastic bag kept in the refrigerator crisper. They will last for 7-8 days.
We love adding green beans to salads like a wonderful Salad Nicoise. Another popular way to prepare them is quickly sauteing them with some mushrooms and garlic. Another idea would be to sprinkle sauteed beans with roasted almonds. Talking about roasting, beans are just great when they are roasted. How about chopped beans in a frittata?

Spinach
Spinach should be washed very well to make sure all of the dirt has come off. The best way to do this is place the spinach leaves in a bowl of tepid water and with your hands swirl them around. Remove the leaves and replace the dirty water with some fresh clean water and repeat the cleaning process.
Spinach make for lovely salads - like this great idea with goat cheese and avocado.
Steam spinach leaves for just a couple of minutes and then toss with crushed garlic, lime juice and olive oil a simple yet great tasting side.

Avocados
Ripe avocados are soft but should not have any dark or bruised spots on them. You'll find more interesting tips and a great avocado pineapple salsa recipe here.
Avocados make a wonderful spread and are a great alternative to mayonnaise. Spread pureed avocado on warmed bread with a few tomato slices for a perfect picnic sandwich.

Fruits

Strawberries
These are very perishable fruit and should be used within a few days of purchase. Select berries that are firm, plump, free of mold, and which have a shiny, deep red color, attached to green caps. Once picked strawberries do not ripen further, so you should avoid selecting white or green colored strawberries.
Before storing in the refrigerator, throw away any strawberries that are molded or bruised otherwise they will contaminate others. Replace unwashed and unhulled berries in their original container or spread them out on a plate covered with a paper towel, then cover with plastic wrap. Strawberries will keep fresh in the refrigerator for one or two days. Do not to leave strawberries at room temperature or exposed to sunlight for too long. This will cause them to spoil.
Strawberries are best eaten pure! However, mixing them in a green salad adds a great zing for the taste buds.
Chop up some strawberries and mix with plain yogurt.
In a blender add some plain yogurt, milk and fresh strawberries - blend until you have a smooth yogurt milkshake.
Using an ice-cream maker a cooling strawberry yogurt ice cream is just unbeatable!


Blueberries
Go for firm berries with a blue hue covered in a whitish bloom. If they are in a container, give them a good shake. They should move about freely, if not this might be a sign of mouldy, damaged berries. Ripe blueberries should be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator where they will keep for about a week, although they will be freshest if consumed within a few days.
Add a handful of fresh blueberries to your breakfast cereal or make some fresh blueberry buttermilk pancakes. My favorite is a light summery berry dessert!



Reminder!
Our first event on the Daily Tiffin this month is Show Us Your Lunchbox. Hope you will join us and allow us to peak into your lunch. Deadline April 20th.


Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.
This Post was written by Meeta from What's For Lunch, Honey?


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