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SUPERFOODS FOR MARCH
Just as the month of March comes in like a lion, we're roaring for some fresh produce. Luckily, March is the first in a series of seasons in which superfoods are bursting from gardens and into your produce aisle. Here are our favorite picks for the beginning of spring. Now, march to your local market.
Why we love it: Low in calories and sodium, these leafy spears provide a healthy dose of fiber, B vitamins and potassium. They also pack antiaging vitamins A, C and E, as well as K, which is a booster for skin luminosity and elasticity. "What's more, asparagus is a tremendous source of a potential cancer fighter called glutathione," said Jackie Newgent, registered dietitian and author of "Big Green Cookbook."
How to buy: Go for bright green asparagus stalks with dry, tight tips. "Steer clear of limp or wilted stalks," said Newgent.
How to prepare: Blanch and toss in a salad or serve as a side. Mix into an egg dish, such as a quiche or omelet, suggested Tara Gidus, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant in Orlando, Fla. "My favorite way to prepare asparagus is to lightly brush it with extra-virgin olive oil and add a pinch of sea salt, then grill over direct heat till lightly charred yet al dente," Newgent said.
Why we love them: They're the ultimate finger food! Artichokes are among the veggies with the highest antioxidant content, said Gidus. These powerful nutrients can combat aging and heart disease, among other health issues. Artichokes also have positive effects on the liver thanks to a host of phytonutrients. And they are packed with fiber: One medium artichoke has more fiber than a serving of prunes.
How to buy: Choose artichoke globes that are dark and heavy. Leaves should be tight. Avoid anything that looks too dry.
How to prepare: Wash well. Soak upside down and rinse in cold water. Trim the steam and peel off the lower layer. Cut an X across the bottom and place in a pan filled three-fourths of the way with water and put in the oven. You can also steam. Once the leaves open, cool and enjoy with a low-cal dipping sauce. "I love them roasted and to dip the leaves in a creamy garlicky sauce," said Gidus.
Why we love them: Morel mushrooms add volume and "meatiness" to improve satisfaction, said Newgent. Weighing in at only 20 calories, a cup of these earthy mushrooms are loaded with the vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin.
How to buy: "Take a whiff; fresh morels should smell fresh, earthy and slightly woodsy. There should be no signs of decay or mold -- and they shouldn't seem dry," said Newgent. Smaller morels tend to have more distinct flavor.
How to prepare: Saute and add to eggs for a morning scramble. Or simmer into soups and your favorite sauces.