Eating locally and seasonally is a fantastic way to improve your health, support your community and go easy on your wallet. Produce that is ripe and fresh from a local farm will be packed with vital nutrients, as it doesn’t have far to go between the soil and your belly. It’s also generally less expensive—produce that is out of season is often imported from elsewhere for a pretty penny. Plus, it just tastes better! Here are some of my favorite farm fresh seasonal produce options in the Southeast, found between late April and early June. Happy harvesting!
3 Ways to use my Favorite Seasonal Produce and 3 Health Reasons Why!
Asparagus: Steam and garnish lemon juice, grated lemon zest and a dollop of pesto | Serve in an omelet with cherry tomatoes and basil | Roast and puree with leeks, onions, potatoes, vegetable broth and sea salt into a soup (enjoy chilled as well).
Health Benefits of Asparagus: Source of glutathione, one of the most important antioxidants to help combat stress, poor sleep and pollution | Contains inulin and fiber for improved digestive and bowel health | High B-Vitamin content, which is crucial for proper metabolism
Beets: Bake until caramelized then top with plain yogurt mixed with lemon juice and fresh dill | Steam and chill, then blend in a smoothie with frozen raspberries, banana and almond milk | Sauté beet greens with garlic then enjoy them on an open-face sandwich with hardboiled eggs, salt and pepper
Health Benefits of Beets: Beet consumption has been shown to lower blood pressure, likely due to its high nitrate concentration | Contain betaine and folate, which decreases inflammation and may improve mood| Support natural detoxification processes and improve liver function
Fennel: Brown thick slices in olive oil and salt then add chicken stock braise until completely soft and top with dried cherries and capers | Blend raw slices with 1 peeled orange, ice and honey for a refreshing smoothie | Thinly slice and toss with walnuts and julienne green apple, drizzle with a mixture of Dijon, olive oil and balsamic
Health Benefits of Fennel: Improves digestive upset, constipation, gas and bloating | Strong source of potassium, which works as an electrolyte for crucial for healthy cognitive abilities and brain function | Filled with Vitamin C to protect the immune system and repair skin tissue
Ramps (a.k.a. wild leeks): trim ends and grill with Portobello mushrooms, then season with sesame oil, salt and pepper | Swap for garlic in a homemade hummus recipe with chickpeas, lemon juice, salt, cumin and a touch of tahini paste | Chop thinly and add to chicken salad with Dijon mustard, chopped tarragon, pecans and a touch of mayo.
Health Benefits of Ramps: Offer Vitamin A, which promotes strong eyesight and the formation of healthy bones and teeth | Abundant polyphenols, antioxidants that help protect blood cells from damage and reduce inflammation | Contain selenium, an often-overlooked mineral, essential for proper thyroid function and shown to help treat prostate cancer
Mint: Steep in warm water with lemon and honey, chill for refreshing tea | Use in a pesto with pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, sea salt and lemon juice | Make mint sugar by blending a small handful leaves with coconut or maple syrup
Health Benefits of Mint: Activates secretion of digestive enzymes for improved digestion and used as a palate cleanser | The scent is used to aid nausea and headaches and clear congestion | Natural stimulant for energy, brightened mood, mental clarity and alertness
Strawberries: Blend with raw cashews, maple syrup and a touch of water for a healthy dessert cream alternative| Roast and drizzle with syrupy balsamic, enjoy over arugula | Mash with honey, almond oil and a few squeezes of lemon juice for a 5 minute face mask
Health Benefits of Strawberries: Contains the flavonoid quercetin, known to reduce the risk of heart diseases and combat arterial plaque and risk of stroke | It’s gorgeous color comes from anthocynanins, which can stimulate the burning of stored fat and improve short term memory | High in fiber for improved detoxification and bowel function
Radishes: Serve raw with room temperature grassfed butter that has been mixed with fresh chopped herbs | Pickle by soaking raw matchstick-cut pieces in a 3:1 ratio of wine vinegar to honey with a pinch of salt overnight, drain | slice thinly and serve on toasted bread over mashed avocado with chopped chives and garlic salt
Health Benefits of Radishes: According to Chinese medicine, radishes are a cooling food that are perfect for welcoming the body to warmer months | Pungent flavor and scent can help eliminate excess mucus and clear sinuses | Low in calorie but high in nutrients, so they’re a good option for a healthy weight-loss diet
Laura Lea is a Certified Holistic chef, recipe developer and food writer based in her hometown of Nashville. Her company LL Balanced is at your service to provide easy, nutritious, family-friendly recipes that will make eating healthy a pleasure and restore balanced to your life. Laura Lea is a Certified Holistic Chef, not a registered dietician, nutritionist or doctor, and her opinion should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult one such licensed professional before making any significant changes to your diet