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Spring Vegetable Recipes and Tips

Fresh seasonal veggies are one more reason to celebrate spring.
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WebMD Expert Column

Each year when spring just seems to pop up out of nowhere, I'm reminded of the power that the weather and our surroundings have on a person's outlook. Seeing the hills blanketed with lush, green grass and the trees in bloom, walking outside without a jacket for the first time in months, feeling the sun shine on your face -- well, it just makes a person feel happier and healthier. And, as if spring weather weren't thrilling enough, the produce department begins to display a bounty of luscious spring vegetables.

The "same old, same old" veggies that saw us through winter are ready to be retired from the dinner table. I start looking forward to serving artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, sweet corn, fresh spinach, crisp green beans, and Swiss chard.

Here's how to buy those spring veggies, store them, and cook them, along with three new spring vegetable recipes to try.

Asparagus

Each cup of fresh asparagus gives you 3 grams of fiber and a cornucopia of antioxidants, such as vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin C, and folate. And you get all this for only 27 calories.

  • To buy: Look for odorless stalks with dry, tight tips. Avoid stalks that are limp or discolored.
  • To store: Wrap ends of stalks with a wet paper towel and place in plastic bag. Refrigerate up to four days.
  • To cook: Asparagus is best when it is isn't overcooked and still maintains a bright green color and just-tender texture. You can cook it by stir-frying, steaming, or microwaving until just tender (about 5 minutes but my favorite way to cook asparagus is on the grill or in the broiler. Just lightly brush with olive oil before throwing them on the grill or in the oven. It takes 6-8 minutes under the broiler.

Artichokes

An artichoke makes you work for its 10 grams of fiber and 63 calories! You pull, dip, and scrape each leaf on a cooked artichoke. Then, with your top teeth, you scrape the flesh from the leaf. It takes about 10 minutes to properly eat an artichoke (I actually timed myself). Each medium globe artichoke also gives you 9 milligrams of vitamin C and 107 micrograms of folate. 

  • To buy: Look for plump artichokes that feel heavy for their size with tightly closed leaves. If possible, pull back one of the outer leaves to check that the insides don't have black spots.
  • To store: Refrigerate artichokes, unwashed, in a plastic produce bag for up to a week. Keep dry to prevent mold.
  • To cook: Wash in cold water and cut off stem at base. If desired, you can trim off the thorns by cutting 1/2 inch off the tip of each outer leaf. Artichoke are commonly boiled until tender, but also can be cut in half lengthwise and cooked fairly quickly with some water (1/8 cup per choke) in the microwave.

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