Spring is the season of renewal. New crops push up above the ground, and animals give birth. Winter's ice thaws, rains come; the earth smells fresh. In the markets, a few new vegetables and fruits show up.
In most parts of the country, however, the coming of spring doesn't bring the full seasonal bounty that occurs later, in the summer and fall. Still, there are nice, seasonal bargains. As always, foods from the foundation of the Food Guide Pyramid, the Bread, Cereal, Rice and Pasta Group, are readily available. Nor are foods from the Milk, Yogurt and Cheese Group seasonal. These are as important as ever, rich in protein and calcium; the best choices for those age 2 and over are the lowfat varieties. If you drink whole milk, consider switching to 2%, or 1%, or skim milk, which has all the protein and calcium and other nutrients, but less fat.
The Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs and Nuts groups are also widely available. Spring is the season of "spring chickens, " which are younger and more tender. Spring runs of fish, such as smelt and salmon, can be delicious. Beef, lamb and pork are always available.
In the Fruit Group, apples are still available, as are citrus fruits, and we begin to see, later in the season, strawberries. In the Vegetable group, asparagus is always a sign of spring. Artichokes begin to come in, as do peas. Spinach is available. Lettuces start to be more affordable. Celery comes in. Scallions, or green onions, are in season. At the same time, hardier vegetables, such as potatoes and sweet potatoes, winter squash, cauliflower, carrots and cabbage, and many kinds of dark greens are still inexpensive. For a quick and tasty way to cook greens, see Seared Greens. For use of a variety of vegetables, try Early Vegetable and Lentil Salad. Summer is not far away!
Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Miliken, Nancy Silverton, Evan Kleiman, Andrea Crawford, Tommy Tang, Michael Lomonaco, Anne Rosenzweig, Douglas Rodrigues, Alexander Small, Jimmy Schmidt, Lorraine Platman, Odessa Piper, Peter Loren, Harlan "Pete" Peterson and Brian Polcyn
All dairy, meats and poultry products, most fish and sellfish.
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