Corn is just beginning to come into season now, giving us yet another reason to celebrate spring. And there's no tastier way to enjoy corn than fresh off the cob. Although corn is considered a "starchy" vegetable, each ear contributes 2 grams of fiber, 35 micrograms of folate and antioxidant phytochemicals, along with about 83 calories.
- To buy: Look for ears with tight rows of kernels, green husks, and fresh silk underneath the husks. You can peel away the top of the husks to do a quick inspection before buying.
- To store: Refrigerate with the husks on and eat as soon as possible, preferably within a couple of days.
- To cook: Pull off and discard husks and pull off the silk strings. Cook in the microwave, in boiling water, or over the grill. One of my favorite ways to cook corn is to bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the ears and cover the saucepan. Bring back to a boil, then turn off the heat. The corn is tender-cooked after about 10 minutes.
Swiss chard, a member of the beet family, is in season in spring in some areas of the country. This dark leafy green vegetable has bumpy (not flat) leaves that look like other greens, but stems that look like thin celery. Both leaves and stems of Swiss chard are edible. It comes in green or red varieties. A cup of cooked chopped Swiss chard has 4 grams of fiber, a whopping 10,000 IU of vitamin A and 6,000 micrograms of beta carotene. It also has vitamin C (32 milligrams), folate (16 micrograms) and calcium (101 milligrams).
- To buy: Look for bunches of chard with fresh, crisp, green leaves that aren't yellow or discolored.
- To store: Store your bunch of chard, unwashed, in a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper for up to 3 days.
- To cook: The leaves and stems can be steamed, cooked in a microwave, sauteed in a nonstick frying pan with a little canola or olive oil (about 5 minutes) or blanched (plunged into boiling water briefly until just tender, then rinsed in ice-cold water to stop the cooking process.)