With Spring comes spring produce and fresh produce is one delicious benefit of this season of rebirth. These easy healthy recipes highlight fresh fruits and vegetables in season, such as asparagus, sweet peas, strawberries, artichokes, leeks and rhubarb. For produce at its peak, shop the farmers’ market or grow fruits and vegetables in your garden.
Warm Snow Pea & Chicken Salad:
Snow peas aren't just for stir-fries. Thinly sliced, their crunchy texture and sweet taste combine with a creamy Asian dressing to make this salad special.
Makes: 4 servings, 11/4 cups each
Total Time: 40 minutes
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed
1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
2 tablespoons tahini, or cashew butter
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound snow peas, trimmed and thinly slivered lengthwise
2 tablespoons chopped cashews
Place chicken in a medium skillet or saucepan and add broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool. Shred into bite-size pieces. (Cool and refrigerate the broth, reserving it for another use.)
Meanwhile, whisk vinegar, soy sauce, 2 teaspoons sesame oil and tahini (or cashew butter) in a large bowl until smooth.
Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in slivered peas and cook, stirring, until bright green, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the dressing.
Add the chicken to the bowl with the peas; toss to combine. Serve sprinkled with cashews.
Per serving: 284 calories; 13 g fat (2 g sat, 5 g mono); 64 mg cholesterol; 13 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 30 g protein; 3 g fiber; 509 mg sodium; 499 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (90% daily value), Selenium (30% dv), Iron (20% dv), Magnesium (18% dv).
Carbohydrate Servings: 1
Meringue-Topped Strawberries & Rhubarb
Poaching brings out the flavorful strawberry and rhubarb juices with minimal effort. An airy meringue on top of the poached fruit is a healthy (and gorgeous) stand-in for a heavier whipped-cream or ice cream topping.
Makes: 6 servings
Active Time: 30 minutes
Low calorie | Low cholesterol | Low saturated fat | Low sodium | Heart healthy | Healthy weight | Gluten free |
1 pound fresh or frozen (not thawed) rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, (optional)
2 cups (1 pint) fresh or frozen (not thawed) strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered, if larger
3 large egg whites, at room temperature, or equivalent dried egg whites (see Ingredient Note)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Stir rhubarb, sugar and ginger (if using) in a medium bowl. Divide the mixture evenly among six 8-ounce ramekins (see Variation). Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and cover tightly with foil. Bake until the rhubarb is softened, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the foil.
Carefully tuck strawberries between the chunks of rhubarb. (Do not stir or the rhubarb will break apart.)
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and continue mixing until the egg whites are glossy and hold peaks. Spoon beaten egg whites over each portion of fruit. Use a thin spatula to spread the meringue into decorative peaks.
Return the ramekins to the oven and bake until the meringue is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Variation: This dish can be made in a deep-dish pie pan instead of individual ramekins; the recipe and timing are the same.
TIPS & NOTES
Make Ahead Tip: Equipment: Six 8-ounce ramekins
Ingredient Note: Dried egg whites are pasteurized—a wise choice when making meringue toppings that may not reach 160°F (the temperature at which eggs are considered "safe"). You'll find them in the baking or natural-foods section of most supermarkets. Reconstitute according to package directions.
Per serving: 148 calories; 0 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 35 g carbohydrates; 3 g protein; 2 g fiber; 31 mg sodium; 340 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (60% daily value).
Carbohydrate Servings: 2
Lemon-Mint Snap Peas & Lima Beans
Fresh-tasting lemon-mint vinaigrette dresses up snap peas and lima beans in a hurry. The creamy texture of limas is a perfect counterpart to the crunch of the sugar snap peas. Try this vinaigrette with asparagus and green beans too.
Makes: 6 servings, about 2/3 cup each
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed
10 ounces frozen baby lima beans, thawed
Whisk shallot, oil, lemon juice, mint, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a medium saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Steam snap peas and lima beans until the snap peas are tender-crisp and the lima beans are heated through, 5 to 7 minutes. Toss with the vinaigrette.
Per serving: 137 calories; 5 g fat (1 g sat, 4 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 18 g carbohydrates; 1 g added sugars; 5 g protein; 5 g fiber; 132 mg sodium; 227 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (30% daily value), Vitamin A (15% dv).
Carbohydrate Servings: 1
Asparagus & Radish Salad
This colorful asparagus and radish salad is dressed with a sesame-soy vinaigrette. Pair it with grilled shrimp and rice noodles.
Makes: 4 servings, scant 1 cup each
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
1 bunch asparagus, (about 1 pound), trimmed
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2-3 dashes Asian red chile sauce, such as sriracha (optional)
1 bunch radishes, trimmed and cut into wedges
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallion
Fill a medium bowl with ice water and place by the stove. Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket.
Thinly slice asparagus stalks on the diagonal, leaving the tips whole. Place in the steamer basket and steam until tender-crisp, about 1 minute. Transfer the asparagus to the ice water. Drain.
Combine vinegar, soy sauce, canola oil, sesame oil, ginger and chile sauce (if using) in a large bowl. Add the asparagus, radishes and scallion; toss to combine. Serve warm or room temperature.
Per serving: 66 calories; 4 g fat (0 g sat, 2 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 7 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 3 g protein; 3 g fiber; 181 mg sodium; 359 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Folate (43% daily value), Vitamin A & Vitamin C (25% dv).
Carbohydrate Servings: 1/2
Chicken with Creamy Dill & Leek Sauce
This creamy roast chicken recipe was inspired by a dish made in Turkey, where whole fish are cooked on a bed of potatoes and dill. Comforting and filling, this healthy chicken recipe is perfect for a dill enthusiast, but other herbs, like parsley or thyme, work just as well.
Makes: 8 servings
Serving Size: 3 oz. chicken (w/o skin) & 1/2 cup vegetables
Total Time: 2 hours
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, divided, stems reserved
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon ground pepper, divided
1 4 1/2-pound whole chicken, patted dry
1 pound small Yukon Gold or red potatoes, peeled
4 small-to-medium leeks (about 2 pounds)
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup dry vermouth
1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Mash butter in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon dill and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Carefully loosen the skin over the chicken breast and legs; push and spread the butter around under the skin until it’s as evenly distributed as possible. Sprinkle the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Place in a roasting pan. Squeeze lemon over the chicken, then put the rinds into the cavity along with the dill stems.
Slice potatoes about 1/16 inch thick. Remove most of the dark green tops and the root ends from leeks. Halve the leeks lengthwise and rinse well to remove any grit between the layers. Cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces.
Scatter the potatoes and leeks around the chicken. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Heat broth to boiling and pour it onto the vegetables, along with vermouth.
Roast the chicken and vegetables for 20 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 350° and continue roasting until the potatoes are tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh without touching bone registers 165°F, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
Transfer the chicken to a warmed platter and cover with foil. If the vegetables haven’t absorbed all the liquid, set the pan over medium-high heat on the stovetop and boil, stirring, until the liquid mostly disappears. Gently fold crème fraîche (or sour cream) into the vegetables; it doesn’t have to be completely mixed in—there is a rough edge to this dish that makes it all the more satisfying. Pour any accumulated juice from the chicken over the vegetables. Serve the chicken with the vegetables, scattered with the remaining 1 tablespoon dill.
Per serving: 318 calories; 12 g fat (5 g sat, 3 g mono); 86 mg cholesterol; 23 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 4 g total sugars; 27 g protein; 2 g fiber; 400 mg sodium; 579 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (30% daily value), Vitamin C (28% dv), Iron & Potassium (17% dv), Folate (16% dv)
Carbohydrate Servings: 1 1/2
These prosciutto-wrapped bundles of grilled asparagus are a delicious addition to a spring brunch or elegant dinner.
Makes: 4 servings
Active Time: 20 minutes
16 spears asparagus, (about 1 bunch), trimmed
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 very thin slices prosciutto, (about 1 ounce), cut in half lengthwise
Preheat grill to medium.
Toss asparagus with oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Wrap 1 length of prosciutto around the middle of 4 asparagus spears. Repeat, making 4 bundles. Oil the grill rack (see Tip). Grill the asparagus bundles, turning once or twice, until the asparagus is tender and charred in spots, about 10 minutes.
TIPS & NOTES
Tip: To oil the grill rack, oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.)
Per serving: 39 calories; 2 g fat (0 g sat, 1 g mono); 6 mg cholesterol; 3 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 3 g protein; 1 g fiber; 235 mg sodium; 134 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Folate (22% daily value).
The above are just a few light sides and meals that make use of the early spring vegatables that are found at your local farmers market. The perk with buying local you can find out how they are grown and harvested so that you can eat as organic and range free as you like. Naturally we think fresh is best and you won’t find anything fresher than a product that early this morning was still out in the field and now is available at your local market. So think light, think healthy and enjoy the benefits of Spring…… Stay Healthy.