501 Life Magazine | Food picks for spring
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Food picks for spring

Many times I feel the same way. As we welcome a new addition to our family this month, newness is all around me. What a perfect time to do some spring cleaning in our kitchen, pantry and menus, to take a fresh look at our food plan and breathe new life into our way of eating.

I love spring and all of the fresh fruits and vegetables I am able to feast on. To add great flavor and nutrition to my spring menu, I have three picks for springtime foods. They always leave me feeling refreshed, renewed and revitalized.

No vegetable says “spring” better than asparagus. If this is a vegetable that doesn’t seem to excite your taste bud, I invite you to give it one more try. Asparagus is a great source of folate. Despite its wide availability in food, folate deficiency is the most common vitamin deficiency in the world. Just one cup of cooked asparagus, will provide 67 percent of the daily value for folate.

Apricots are the true fruits of spring. Not only do they help satisfy that sweet tooth, but the red, orange and yellow hues signal their rich supply of carotenoids, phytonutrients that provide powerful antioxidant protection.

Collard greens
Long a dietary staple for those living in the southern United States, collard greens are becoming increasingly popular throughout the rest of the country. Like their cousin broccoli, collard greens are a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables and share their many unique health-promoting properties. This vegetable was and still is a staple in my family’s diet.
I hope you enjoy some of these fresh springtime recipes.

Southern Collard Greens

1 1/2 quarts water
1 1/2 pounds ham hocks
4 pounds collard greens, rinsed and trimmed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the water and the ham hocks in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to very low and simmer covered for 30 minutes.
Add the collards and the hot pepper flakes. Simmer covered for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Add the vegetable oil and simmer covered for 30 minutes.

Apricot Glazed Carrots

2 pounds carrots, peeled and diagonally sliced
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup apricot preserves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish.

Add carrots to a pot of lightly salted water, and bring to a low boil. Simmer until carrots are tender. Drain.
Place melted butter in a bowl, and stir in apricot preserves. Add nutmeg, salt, orange zest and lemon juice. Add carrots, and stir well to coat. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Apricot Bread

1 cup snipped dried apricots
2 cups warm water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 egg
3/4 cup orange juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped nuts

Soak apricots in warm water for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, cream the sugar, butter and egg. Stir in orange juice.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir into creamed mixture just until combined.
Drain apricots well; add to batter with nuts. Pour into a greased 9-inch by 5 inch by 3-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until bread tests done. Cool 10 minutes in pan before removing to a wire rack.

Creamy Asparagus Pasta

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pint light cream
1 pound linguine pasta
1 lemon, juiced

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Boil asparagus for 3 to 4 minutes; drain.
In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sauté garlic and asparagus for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the cream and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add linguine and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and transfer to a serving dish.
Stir lemon juice into asparagus; pour mixture over pasta.