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    Get Fresh: Spring Veggie Recipes

    By Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD
    WebMD Magazine - Feature

    Fresh and vibrant spring vegetables -- and the dishes you make with them -- are a welcome change after winter's hearty fare.

    "Spring vegetables are younger and sweeter," says Keith T. Ayoob, EdD, a registered dietitian. They're also brimming with nutrition.

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    Here are some of Ayoob's best tips for getting these veggies onto your plate.

    1. Eat the whole plant.

    Many of us toss perfectly edible parts of plants. Those green fronds on carrots and fennel? Ayoob blitzes the greens into pesto, or uses them to garnish. "They're loaded with potassium and vitamin C and everything that leafy greens have."

    If you buy artichokes, get the ones with the longest stems -- the stem is an extension of the heart, he says.

    2. Try veggies ungarnished first.

    Ayoob suggests you try ones like steamed artichokes without any dressings or salt at first.

    "I recommend that to educate your palate a bit, because if you're always filled up with fatty stuff, you don't get to really taste the vegetable."

    3. Shop the rainbow.

    Even spring's daintier vegetables come in an array of colors: Blushing radishes, bright green peas, and new white onions are among the colorful produce this time of year.

    Eating a variety of colors and types of vegetables ensures you get an array of phytochemicals,  plant-based nutrients with disease-fighting benefits.

    4. Freshen up favorite recipes.

    Since spring vegetables are tender (think peas, leafy greens, new potatoes, and radishes), they cook up quickly, making them an easy add-in to curries, frittatas, soups, and stir-fries.

    5. Put herbs on the table.

    "Herbs and spices can help you eat more fruits and vegetables, plus they have their own antioxidants they can bring to the table," Ayoob says.

    And of course, using herbs and spices adds flavor, which lets you use less salt. Mint, for instance, wakes up salads, including chicken and tuna salad. Get in the habit of setting out chopped spices and herbs along with the salt and pepper.

    6. Plant a garden.

    You could try to grow some potted herbs and veggies. It doesn't get fresher than pulling a carrot from your backyard or trimming cilantro and basil from the pots on your windowsill. Not only do they look attractive, they're a visible reminder to eat more vegetables.

    It's time to wake up your dishes with everything vegetables have to offer. Start fresh with these recipes.

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