Stepping into Spring should correspond with stepping into the local Farmer’s Market. Some favourites are at their purest peak, and now is the time to make the most of them.

If you don’t harness buying local and fresh when produce is, well, local and fresh, you’re truly missing out. Once you try a tomato straight from your garden or fresh-picked from a down-the-road farm, you’ll realize your winter tomato-eating will never compare. Juicy, sweet and flavourful, they have a dense, gardeny flavour that is hard to ignore.

But it’s not just that – the top produce picks that are available at the Farmer’s Market right about now are also among the healthiest foods you can eat. Here are some of my favourites.

Tomatoes

Starting in late June, depending on your region, tomatoes start in full force. Ranging from cherry tomatoes to heirloom to everything in between, they come in a variety of colours, textures and tastes. Tomatoes are rich in vitamins C and A, but also shine for their abundance of lycopene, an antioxidant that is associated with preventing heart disease and cancer. Lycopene is active when cooked, so buy a bushel of tomatoes and cook down vats of pasta sauce to have on hand in the freezer over the winter months.

Peas

You might have enjoyed peas deshucked in the frozen or canned varieties, but enjoying them straight out of the pod is a Spring indulgence. Their sweet taste adds a little extra in every dish, and are a high fibre source with 7 grams per 1 cup. They’re also a great source of vitamin K, C and B1, as well as folate and magnesium. Try them in shelled straight into a salad or coleslaw, as opposed to basic steaming methods.

Strawberries

A fruit favourite, these Farmer’s Market finds are at the beginning of their season. Strawberries are a great addition in your morning cereal or after-dinner dessert, but great for your heart, too. Strawberries are rich in antioxidants, which are heart-protecting, anti-inflammatory and fight against cancer. They are also rich in fibre and vitamin C – in fact, they contain 125% of the RDI of the vitamin.

Asparagus

The perfect produce that can be prepared in minutes, asparagus is a rich source of folate, which assists in cardiovascular health, and vitamin K, clocking in 114% of your DRI. It’s also high in potassium, fibre, and vitamins A and C, as well as antioxidants, to fight heart disease and cancer. Try roasted on the BBQ with sea salt and a squeeze of fresh orange juice, or thinly sliced and tossed with olive oil and lemon for a quick summery side.

What are your Spring market favourites?

Image courtesy of localharvest.ca


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