6 Great Spring Fruits and Veggies (and How to Pick Them)

Want to take advantage of spring's star produce? We've got expert tips for making the freshest picks possible.

spring superfoods

Now that most of us are thawing from a veryveryvery cold winter, it's time to get excited about longer days, blooming trees, and, of course, spring produce!

More: 50 Foods You Should Never Eat

The season offers some of the most flavorful and nutritious fruits and veggies around -- we're talking pops of red and pink, and greens for days. But how do you know if you're making the best picks at the farmers market or supermarket? Erin Scott, award-winning food blogger and author of Yummy Supper, gave us some of her top tips for spotting the freshest of the fresh in these early market months:

Asparagus
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Asparagus

"When I think of spring produce, I first think of asparagus," Scott says. Those versatile stalks can be prepared a number of ways: roasted, blanched, grilled, you name it (and they even work wonders to prevent a hangover!). With asparagus, size doesn’t matter—it’s completely up to your preferences. I prefer the thinner stalks—they taste a little less stringy to me—but Scott loves the thick ones, too: "They’re so juicy!" No matter your diameter of choice, stalks should be firm and snap-able, and Scott says that the blooms at the tips should also be tight and closed. She recommends avoiding asparagus that looks dried out—bonus points to markets that store their asparagus in water. 

Try it: Make an asparagus and vegetable rice bowl that'll give you a lunchtime (and springtime) potassium fix.

Strawberries and rhubarb
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Strawberries and rhubarb

Likes peas and carrots (we'll get to peas later), strawberries and rhubarb go together wonderfully. Scott calls this delicious duo the "sneak attack pre-summer fruit"—your first taste of sweet, juicy produce before peaches, plums, and other traditional summer fruits start showing up in the aisles. Color is most important here: Look for firm fruit and the deepest red with strawberries, and you should be in for a sweet treat. If you're unsure which berries to buy, ask to taste! "I love that about the farmer' market," says Scott -- the chance to talk to the farmers, and also to ask about where the fruit was grown and under what conditions. Most vendors will be happy to let you do a taste test. As for rhubarb, both red and green are good choices, and Scott recommends a firmer stalk—you shouldn't be able to bend rhubarb.

Try it: Cover them in chocolate, or add them to a parfait, and aim for organic strawberries to stay pesticide-free.

Nettles
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Nettles

This lesser-known green is one of Scott’s favorites—she grows them in her backyard. If you’re new to nettles, try out her Savory Custard With Wild Nettles. You won’t be disappointed. Nettles have soft fuzz on their skins that will sting to the touch, so be careful when you pick them up! The stinging goes away once you cook them down, so no worries about eating eggs with a side of sore throat. Nettles have a long history of medicinal properties—from soothing joint and muscle pain, to helping with insect bites and fighting spring allergies. Look for vibrant leafy greens—nothing wilted or droopy. 

Try it: Add it to your beauty routine, as well! Nettles are a top herb for beautiful hair and will help improve your mane. 

Artichokes
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Artichokes

Scott doesn’t discriminate on size with artichokes. She likes ‘em all -- big and globe-like and baby ‘chokes. To make sure you’re getting a fresh, tasty artichoke, Scott says to "look at the stem -- if it looks healthy, that’s a good sign. You want perky and firm." And this hearty veggie has earned its nickname, the “Amazing Artichoke." Studies show that the fiber-rich pick can help with chronic digestive issues such as IBS, flatulence, and irritable stomach. Plus, they’re packed with antioxidants, making them great weapons against cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses. Looking for a great, simple artichoke recipe? Scott’s got ya covered.

Try it: Simple sautéed lemony artichokes are an easy, delicious way to add more vegetables to your meal.

Peas
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Peas

I told you we’d talk about peas! This tiny tender green vegetable packs a vitamin-filled punch. Vitamins A, B-1, B-6, C, and K are all abundant in this little spring pick. Plus they’re a good source of fiber. To make sure you're getting the best of the best, Scott says "vibrant color and firm crisp texture is what you're looking for." Avoid brown spots and, again, if in doubt, ask to taste! Scott says to go for peas that taste sweet and crisp, not mealy. She recommends pairing them with asparagus—a spring romance if we’ve ever heard of one. 

Try it: A classic beef and pea stir fry only takes minutes to make and makes a perfect weeknight dinner. 

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Tags: Superfoods