There is nothing quite like spring. A somewhat in-between season that is full of hope, excitement and anticipation.
This year, like every other year before it, I find myself ready for not only consistently warmer days here in Michigan, but flavorful, local produce as well!
If you live in Michigan like I, you too are probably pretty excited to leave winter behind. Hopefully, you are also pretty excited about fresh produce and the added flavors, textures, aromas, and experience the versatility Michigan produce can provide.
Thanks to some of our local farmers, getting access to that local produce has never been easier. In fact, this year, I’d encourage you to check out the Community Support Agriculture (CSA) programs in your area. Not only will this ensure you get fresh, quality produce consistently throughout the growing season, but you’ll also enjoy the convenience of nearby pick up locations within your community.
Although CSA programs can vary in what they offer, I spoke with Joe Crawford from the Central Michigan CSA in order to discover what produce one might expect here in Central Michigan. For my veggie lover fanatics, you’ll be pretty excited about what Joe expects to be available this year. For my not-so-keen-on-veggie fans, perhaps I can entice you to at least consider incorporating an extra serving or two.
Although Michigan has a variety of produce to choose from each growing season, there are a few veggies in particular that you may want to take note of– especially throughout the earlier part of the season. Although all veggies offer great benefits, there are a few that tend to stand out from the rest. You can expect to find these and more in your Central Michigan CSA shares this season.
Curious to know which veggies I’m talking about? This year, let’s get excited about kale, Chinese cabbage, Swiss chard, radishes, and tomatoes! All are expected to be in supply and are loaded with good-for-you nutrients. Of course, these aren’t all you’ll find in your shares this year, but these may be ones you’ll want to get more familiar with after you discover their unique nutrient profiles.
Kale and Chinese Cabbage
Kale and Chinese cabbage may be utilized differently in the kitchen, but both share some pretty interesting nutritional benefits. First, both kale and Chinese cabbage have cholesterol lowering benefits thanks to the fiber they contain. To maximize these benefits though, you may want to consider steaming these particular veggies first. This will allow the fiber to better bind with bile acids in your gastrointestinal tract.
Kale and Chinese cabbage also contain glucosinolates – natural components that have shown certain cancer prevention properties in some studies.
Kale is also considered to be a “super food” by many. This may be because it contains over 45 different flavonoids, making it both an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory powerhouse! It also contains almost 3 grams of protein, which is pretty impressive for a vegetable, and small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
Chinese cabbage doesn’t tout quite as many nutritional accolades as kale, but it can add a unique flavor and crunch to your favorite summer burger while also ensuring you are getting more vitamin C and K into your meal plan plus all that great fiber it provides.
I bet you never realized all the versatility found in leafy greens! Swiss chard is another leafy green that you may want to give a go this season. Not quite sure how to incorporate it? Simply sauté in olive oil and add a little cheese! Or throw into your next omelet or batch of scrambled eggs. Swiss chard belongs to the chenopod family along with beets, spinach and quinoa. Talk about a power family! You’ll find 13 different types of polyphenols in Swiss chard in addition to vitamin K, C, and A. Again, this means we’ve got some major anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory action going on here. Some animal studies have also shown benefits in blood sugar regulation with the incorporation of Swiss chard into a regular meal plan.
Radishes may not seem super versatile, but in reality, they can add great flavor and crunch to all sorts of dishes. From a nutritional standpoint, you’ll find that radishes are also loaded with fiber, vitamin C, folate, and potassium.
To make good use of them, here are a few suggestions our own Nutrition Expert, Michelle Voss, RD, shared at her last in-store class:
- Slice into everyday salads
- Top off some whole grain crackers and add some Laughing Cow Cheese
- Throw into a light cucumber salad
- Create radish chips in your oven
- Pickle them and add to fish tacos
This vegetable (or fruit, depending on how you label things) is probably a little more common to most households, but let’s not forget all a tomato has to offer. First, they contain all four types of carotenoids – including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein and lycopene. They too are also rich in fiber and have a pretty high water content – something especially important to consider during the hot days of summer. Because of its unique nutrient profile, tomatoes have been linked to reduced risk of multiple chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
This year, I hope you are able to incorporate fresh produce from your corner of the world into your day. Not quite sure where to look? Check out LocalHarvest.org to discover fresh, local foods in your area.
For my Central Michigan fans, consider checking out Central Michigan CSA and learn more about the farming philosophy behind it and what you can expect from one of your local farmer’s this year.
Disclaimer/Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Central Michigan CSA. We did receive compensation for writing it; however, all opinions expressed are Kati’s alone. We just thought you should know. For a full list of our disclaimer and disclosure policies, please visit our legal page.