As warm weather approaches, many Tennesseans eagerly await the time when the farmers' markets will be brimming with what is perhaps America's favorite berry, the strawberry. Sadly, the growing season for strawberries in Middle Tennessee is short, lasting only from May to June. The strawberry's short availability period coincides with the season for fresh, local greens, from April through June. Combining these two nutrition stars may seem a little strange at first, but it is well worth the venture.
Strawberries are a low-calorie, naturally sweet treat that are packed full of powerful antioxidants like vitamin C. One cup of sliced strawberries contains only 50 calories and 160 percent of your daily vitamin C! Antioxidants like vitamin C are an important part of a healthy diet because studies have shown that they help prevent cancer and heart disease.
Southern tradition links eating greens on New Year's Day to good luck in the coming year. Green leafy vegetables may not actually help you win the lottery, but they do supply many nutrients that may help keep you healthy in the coming year. Greens like mixed greens, collards, arugula, kale, and spinach are very low in calories. They also are an excellent source of vitamin A, which promotes eye and skin health, and prevents infections. A half cup of cooked collards or kale provides 150 to 180 percent of your daily vitamin A and less than 25 calories. If you prefer salad, just 2 cups of raw mixed greens, arugula, or spinach will supply at least half of your daily vitamin A and less than 20 calories. These greens are a great nutrition bang for your buck!
Local berries and greens are fresher and tastier than their distantly grown, year-round counterparts. Enjoying these spring superstars is an excellent way to increase your fruit and vegetable intake. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most Americans need to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables they consume to reach the recommended amounts of 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily (based on a 2,000 calorie diet).
This spring, explore the many possibilities using strawberries and greens. Increase your fruit your fruit and vegetable intake while keeping calories low with creative options such as the recipe below.
Enjoy happy, healthy eating this spring with local strawberries and greens!
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