Spring means bountiful offerings of fresh fruits and vegetables at local farmers markets. Picked ripe, local fruits and vegetables provide super flavor — just ask anyone who’s had the pleasure of eating a fresh strawberry. Local produce also has the benefit of maximum nutrition.
To help Missourians get these local superfoods on their tables, Ann Cohen, a nutrition specialist with MU Extension, has put together three Seasonal and Simple cookbooks that organize recipes according to when their ingredients are in season. The following recipes are for spring and summer.
Strawberry & Spinach Salad
2 cups strawberries, sliced
1 pound spinach leaves
½ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup cider vinegar
½ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
In saucepan, heat sugar, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and oil until sugar dissolves. Add poppy seeds and cool. Toss dressing over strawberries and spinach.
Spinach: vitamins A, C, K, calcium, magnesium, potassium, fiber and folate
Strawberries: vitamin C, potassium and fiber
Spinach: March to June and September to December
Strawberries: May to June
Missouri Berry Fruit Salad
1 pint blackberries
1 pint blueberries
1 pint raspberries
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ cup sugar
In a large bowl, combine the berries with vinegar and sugar. Stir gently. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.
Blackberries: vitamins A, C and K, potassium, magnesium and fiber
Blueberries: potassium, fiber and vitamin K
Raspberries: vitamin C, K, potassium, magnesium, fiber and folate
Blackberries: July to October
Blueberries: June to September
Raspberries: June to October
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium zucchini, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini slices and cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and oregano, and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.
Zucchini (summer squash): vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and fiber
Zucchini: July to October
So what good do all those vitamins and minerals and such do? Here are some of the benefits of the nutrients starring in these recipes.
Vitamin A: An antioxidant that may reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers; also helps maintain eye health.
Vitamin C: An antioxidant that may reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers; also helps protect skin from bruising, helps heal cuts, keeps gums healthy and aids in iron absorption.
Vitamin K, Calcium and Magnesium: Help build and maintain strong bones.
Potassium: Helps maintain healthy blood pressure
Fiber: Helps control cholesterol and promote bowel health.
Folate: May reduce the risk of heart disease and important in prenatal nutrition to help lower the risk of neural tube birth defects.
Find more recipes, organized according to local season, with nutritional information in the Seasonal and Simple publications. Titles in the series include Seasonal and Simple: A Guide for Enjoying Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, Seasonal and Simple for Food Service, and Grow Eat Grow: A Seasonal and Simple Guide for Gardening and Cooking with Kids.
Seasonal and Simple publications are available through MU Extension at extension.missouri.edu/publications or by calling 800-292-0969.