Right now is a beautiful, exciting, and also tricky time of year. There is a ton of anticipation in the air for warmer weather and all that comes with it. Picnics, longs walks outside, no jackets or boots, and best of all – fresh fruits and veggies! The weather seems to be arriving nicely for us, but as for the fresh food…we’re not quite there yet. Its soon to follow, though! The asparagus sprouting up, the first peas and greens, rhubarb – they can’t seem to come quick enough, all of these wonderful, delicious signs that spring is officially here. Especially this year, the chilly weather has delayed our local veggies from greeting us just yet, in many places here in Ontario. What I want to stress to you is – its worth the wait!!
Although the temptation can be so great to jump in early and grab some asparagus grown in Mexico (I am most certainly guilty of this myself, in desperate hungry times), there really is nothing like honouring and eating with the seasons, truly appreciating the flavour and experience of eating something that has just been grown and harvested, nearby to where you live. Good things – karma, nutrition, conscience, flavour – come to those who wait, remember!
What is available locally right now in many places are greens – many of which are grown in greenhouses – and these can be a great way to freshen up your diet in tune with the season. Spinach is a wonderful leafy green that is growing in abundance, so eat as much as you can from your local farmer while you can get it. Once the heat of summer comes along, spinach does not grow as well. Keep in mind that in order to absorb many of the beneficial nutrients in spinach (including iron and calcium), it must be consumed alongside vitamin C – which can be accomplished with fresh lemon or citrus quite nicely (check out the recipe for a delicious Orzo Salad here using spinach and lemon)! Other mixed lettuces and kale are available now, too, so this is a great time to begin incorporating more fresh salads and raw foods into your meals.
The next things to get excited about eating are the wild foods, including wild leeks (ramps), fiddleheads, and nettles. All of these can be added to a simple pasta dish with garlic and olive oil, or simply sauteed to make a flavourful side dish. The wild leeks make a really great pesto, too! We just need a bit more warmth for some of these delicious foods to be greeting us in abundance. You can search for them in your own bush, if you’re feeling adventurous – just follow the smell! Or, they are also available at many farmer’s and local food markets over the next few weeks, too.
1 large bunch(approx. 1 cup) wild leeks/ramps, washed, trimmed, and chopped
1 cup fresh spinach, washed thoroughly
a squeeze (approx. 1 tbsp.) fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, or other nut/seed
1/4 – 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oilsmall handful grated parmesan cheese (optional)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1. Place all ingredients aside from olive oil and cheese in food processor. Pulse to chop into a fine paste.
2. Add cheese (if using), start processor and slowly add olive oil through feed tube until desired consistency is reached.
3. Serve as a pasta sauce, or spread on your favourite bread, as a sandwich spread, dip, or whatever you please!
4. Store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, or freeze what you will not use in this time.
Of course, asparagus, is a true sign of spring and something we should eat a ton of while we can get it. Besides tasting wonderful as part of many spring dishes, asparagus contains a host of anti-inflammatory properties which promote heart health and fight cancer. Asparagus is also extremely high in B-vitamins, including folic acid, and fibre – aiding in good digestion. As if we needed more reasons to enjoy this awesome vegetable!
Another favourite spring food – peas! They are sweet and oh so fun to pick and eat right from the garden. I know I’ve eaten my fair share while harvesting huge bushels of them! Besides being delicious, peas are very high in protein and fibre and contain a unique composition of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. For these reasons, they aid in the prevention of type-2 diabetes. Peas are also an amazingly environmentally friendly crop, providing incredible nutrition for the precious soil itself in the form of nitrogen and preventing erosion with their unique root systems. Wow – too many reasons to go eat peas!
Now let’s look on the sweeter side to two absolute favourites: strawberries & rhubarb. Rhubarb is one of the first friendly plants to greet us in spring and for so many reasons, we should really enjoy it in large quantities at this time of year. High in calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin K, lutein – vitamins and nutrients which bring health to our eyes, skin, bones, and heart. As for strawberries, our late spring favourite – you can feel free to gorge on them and lower inflammation significantly, improve blood sugar regulation, and amplify your powerful antioxidant intake! There is really nothing like an in-season strawberry, especially when picked yourself from your local farmer. Makes the watery-white California ones available year-round seem so sad and lifeless.
Other incredible spring foods to celebrate and enjoy in abundance include: green onions, leek, maple syrup, new potatoes, mushrooms, radishes…
I can think of no better way to celebrate the abundance of life springing up from the ground these days, than with a week of spring cleaning for our bodies! I am inviting you all to join us for our annual Spring Renewal Cleanse – where we’ll refresh our bodies and align with the season by eating a menu centred around what is fresh and growing right now – all of the foods mentioned above!
All you have to do to receive the complete meal plan for this wonderful week of eating is visit the Seasonal Cleanses page of the website.
And please, do share this with your friends and family who may be interested as well – love, food, good energy – all things best shared with others.
I hope you’ll join us and make this the beginning of a wonderful, healthy summer of eating well!