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Have a Spring Produce Fling!

Make the best of the season's bounty with these tips and yummy recipes
By
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

It seems to me that springtime teases us with a handful of produce before the big bounty of summer kicks in. But the good news is that some of our all-time favorite fruits and veggies are in season in spring! So don't forget to enjoy them every chance you get.

When spring had barely started this year, my supermarket had beautiful strawberries on sale. So I decided to celebrate spring by making my very popular Three-Berry, Less-Sugar Jam (something I normally don't get to until early summer). I wasn't going to let the fact that the other two berries in the jam (raspberries and blackberries) weren't quite in season yet stop me. I just used frozen raspberries and blackberries, and it worked out great. And spring had officially begun!

Let's take a closer look at 11 springtime favorites, both fruits and vegetables. We'll review their nutritional attributes, discuss some fun and healthful ways to enjoy them -- and you'll find a few recipes to try.

1. AVOCADOS

Grown mainly in California, their peak season is March through August.

Avocados are very rich in monounsaturated fats, one of the preferred types of fat, which help lower the "bad" (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. One-fifth of an avocado contains 55 calories and 3 grams of fiber, and 4% of the Daily Value for vitamin C.

Tips to try:

  • If the avocado isn't ripe yet, keep it on the countertop. After it's ripe, though, keep refrigerated.
  • It's easy to add avocado to all sorts of salads.
  • Serve shrimp or chicken salad in the hollowed-out middle of an avocado half.

2. BLACKBERRIES

Grown in California; they're available in June and July.

A cup of blackberries has only 60 calories, but 6 grams fiber, 50% of the Daily Value for vitamin C, and 4% Daily Value for calcium.

Tips to try:

  • Top hot or cold breakfast cereal with blackberries.
  • Add fresh or frozen berries to smoothies.
  • Top waffles or pancakes with blackberries.

3. CHERRIES

They're harvested in June in California; in July in Oregon; and in June and July in Washington.

One cup has 90 calories, 3 grams fiber, and 15% Daily Value for vitamin C.

Tips to try:

  • Keep cherries refrigerated and be gentle with them; they bruise easily.
  • Cherries add color and texture to fruit salads and green salads.
  • You can add cherries to smoothies, too!

4. GRAPES

In the United States, grapes are grown in California, where peak season runs from June-November.

One-and-a-half cup of grapes have 90 calories, 1 gram of fiber, and 25% Daily Value for vitamin C.

Tips to try:

  • Keep grapes refrigerated and wash them just before serving.
  • Make fruit kabobs by stringing grapes and other fruits onto a skewers or bamboo sticks.

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