By: Anna Munzenmaier
SPARC Specialist and Coach

With spring right around the corner and the weather getting warmer, it is time to get to know the season fruits and vegetables that will help you be a peak gym performer. Eating fresh foods full of color will serve you well now and in the future. The benefits of consuming your recommended portions of fruits and vegetables include possibly reducing the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases and getting essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other phytochemicals that serve as antioxidants.  For most people, 2 ½ cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit per day is sufficient.  Based on information from the USDA, buying local, seasonal produce could help reduce our carbon footprint and also help local communities (like Athens).

Spring’s best produce…drum roll please!

Vidalia onions: Look for firm, dense orbs that have no soft spots. Use them in soups or sautés!

Morel Mushrooms: Look for dry and springy mushrooms ranging from tan to brown in color. They are similar to truffles and need to be rinsed with a damp towel to prevent them from soaking up water like a sponge!

Asparagus: Look for thin, bright green stalks because they will be the most tender. Try to get bundles that have stalks uniform in size.

Rhubarb: Look for bright, crisp stalks with intact leaves. Keep in mind that the redder the sweeter!

Sugar snap peas and Fava beans: Look for plump, bright green pods that don’t have their beans bulging out!

Radishes: Look for attached, bright, and whole leaves with firm bulbs.

Arugula/Watercress/ Dandelion greens: Look for bright and crisp greens.

Artichokes: Look for rich green color and petals that are tightly packed.  Use in dips or boil and eat the meat right off the petals!

Strawberries: Look for bright red berries that do not have soft or dark, soft spots. If you are buying them in a carton take a good look from the underneath to make sure bad ones are not hiding on the bottom.

Mangos: Do not look at color when picking out this fruit. A ripe mango will give slightly with a soft squeeze.

Blueberries: Pick bright and plump berries! Use in oatmeal or on top or a yummy Greek yogurt parfait to get protein and antioxidants all in one snack!

Kiwi: Look for a firm and unblemished fruit that gives a little when you squeeze it! Use in a smoothie or eat it with a handful of nuts as a snack!

Pineapple: Look for fresh looking pineapples with green leaves and a firm shell. Use on a salad as a colorful topper or grill pineapple rings to serve with salmon or chicken for a tropical flare!

Tomatoes: Look for bright red tomatoes without blemish. These can be eaten with anything! Add them to an omelet, sandwich, or salad to get a great nutrient boost!

You can find these fresh eats at local grocery stores now or at the Athens Farmer’s Market starting April 4th at Bishop Park.