Your Guide to Spring-Fresh Ingredients For Your Recipes

Finally – the sun’s out, your winter coat is headed to the dry cleaner and your grocery store produce selection just got a little brighter. Spring is here, and that means it’s time to fill your plate (and your belly) with a whole lot more than soup and casserole and, instead, leap for fresh fruits and veggies that are now back in season.

So whether your meal prepping consists of rice bowls, salads or oven bakes, here are the ingredients you can start adding back to your grocery list—and some spring-inspired recipes to go along with them.

Artichokes

You might have enjoyed the can version in your spinach and artichoke dips over the football-watching months, but the fresh kind are optimal from March to June (and back again in the fall). And, when they’re not coupled with heavy cream and mozzarella, artichokes are super healthy. In fact, one ‘choke alone offers up 10 grams of fiber along with a boatload of vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate vitamin B-6, B-12, A, E, D and K. And, because they’re known to have the highest antioxidant level out of all vegetables, they defend your immune system like no other and have been proven to reduce your risk of developing cancer.
Try: Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Chicken—protein-packed goodness that still offers a creamy flavor.

Asparagus

Once dubbed the “food of kings” by Louis XIV of France, this stringy, delicious vegetable has snuck its way into almost any kind of recipe. And for good reason! Each stalk is loaded with B and C vitamins, iron, fiber folate and more, and just like artichokes, asparagus is also known to help in the fight against cancer—specifically bone, breast, colon, larynx and lung. Researchers also found that it helps our brains stay active and healthy. In a Tufts University study, older adults with healthy levels of folate and B12 scored higher on tests of response speed and mental ability!
Try: Asparagus Goat Cheese Galette—this recipe is even easier than it looks, we promise!

Sweet Cherries

Closely related to wild cherries, these glossy, deep red and tart-tasting fruits are at their peak during late spring and early summer. They make the perfect addition to any snack or dessert—be it a healthy serving of Greek yogurt or atop a freshly baked pie—thanks to the fact that they’re high in fiber and potassium and low in calories. Some research even shows a connection between eating sweet cherries and preventing Alzheimer’s!
Try: Simple and Sweet Cherry Pie Bars—sub the butter for applesauce for an even healthier, just-as-delicious treat.

Radishes

This root vegetable gets quite a bit of flack for being bitter when, in reality, it has a nice distinctive flavor that doctors up any old recipe. Just one cup alone packs 30 percent of your daily vitamin C needs in less than 25 calories to boot. During the spring and summer they grow locally, so you can find them at your local farmer’s market and pay a bit less for them than you would any other time of the year (when they’re imported from another country). They’re a naturally cooling food and are regarded in eastern medicine for their ability to lower body heat and help fight against colds and infection.
Try: Radish and Cucumber Salad With Garlic-Yogurt Dressing—a healthy way to cool down and fill up after a workout.

Apricots

These luscious, orange fruits—enjoyed fresh, dried, candied or frozen—come to life in the springtime, mirroring the flowers blooming on the trees. In their natural state, apricots are very similar in appearance, texture and taste to peaches—they’re small, golden and have super-soft skin. Because they’re loaded with a number of potent antioxidants, they protect against free radicals, loss of vision, inflammation and help your digestive tract. They’re also packed with soluble fiber, so in addition to helping your body break down foods, they also help control blood cholesterol levels.
Try: Apricot Strawberry Smoothies—an energy-boosting drink loaded with all the right nutrients and a double dose of fiber.

Broccolini

This is not your average broccoli. While similar in appearance and in taste, these even smaller florets up your vegetable game even more because in addition to their many health perks, they also boost your metabolism. Broccolini has a milder, sweeter taste than the kind you’re used to and because it’s thinner, you can cook the stalks whole without even needing to chop up or peel. Because of their high fiber count, they help with digestion, relieve constipation, maintain low blood sugar and can even curb your appetite!
Try: Roasted Broccolini With Garlic Parmesan—the perfect side dish to any protein—be it chicken, fish steak or tofu!

Jenn Sinrich is an editor in New York City, a self-proclaimed foodie always looking for the healthier version of all recipes, a passionate lover of all things cheese, a friendly New Yorker, Bostonian at heart and proud Red Sox fan. Love cats? Cheese? Mac n' Cheese? Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.