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Pop these five seasonal selections and pantry staples in your shopping basket to help you create convenient, delicious and healthy meals.

The leap into April is a sign that crisp mornings are making way for sun-kissed evening skies. This change in weather also brings a shift in the produce selection available at the market. When you’re out shopping, snag these five seasonal selections and pantry staples that can help you create convenient, healthy meals that celebrate spring. Here’s what to grab.

1. Avocados

April marks the beginning of avocado season in the United States. Not only are avocados a source of heart-healthy fats, they’re also a great way to add more heart-healthy fibre and folate to your diet. In fact, just one-quarter of an avocado provides 2.5 grams of filling fibre, according to the USDA. Plus, avocados act as a great nutrient booster in recipes, because the heart-healthy fats actually help you absorb the fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins A, D, E and K) contained in other foods.

2. Asparagus

This seasonal produce pick is a favorite among dietitians. A 1-cup serving of raw asparagus provides 3 grams of fibre, 3 grams of protein and 56 micrograms of bone-strengthening vitamin K (more than half of the daily recommended intake for adults), according to the USDA. Plus, the veggie also provides vitamins A and C, potassium and phosphorus.

That’s not where the perks of this veggie stop. Asparagus is a good source of prebiotic fibre, says registered dietitian Cara Harbstreet, M.S., RD, of Street Smart Nutrition. Prebiotic fibre is important for feeding the good bacteria in your gut.

Asparagus adds a vibrant pop of color to your spring dishes, like salads, pastas, quiches and drool-worthy sides.

3. Edamame

April happens to be National Soy Foods Month, and while edamame is available year-round in the freezer section, it’s a surefire win for nutrition professionals when it comes to stocking a well-rounded kitchen. “Soy foods like edamame are heart-healthy and may be protective against certain types of cancer,” says Harbstreet.

As for the health benefits of edamame, a ½-cup serving of the shelled beans provides 7 grams of protein and 3 grams of filling fibre, in addition to serving up a good source of iron, per the USDA. “Edamame adds plant-based protein, fibre and other key nutrients to spring salads, dips, snacks and more,” says Harbstreet. While you can certainly snack on edamame on its own, it’s an easy plant-based protein to add to your spring salads.

4. Radishes

These tiny but mighty red (and pink and white) beauties are a game changer when it comes to adding a spunky bite to your salads or when pickled and added to upgrade your toast. While you can find them year-round, fresh radishes shine in the springtime, says Harbstreet. “You can find them in many varieties, ranging from mild and slightly sweet in flavour to peppery and sharp,” she says. What’s more, radishes are part of the mustard family, meaning the green tops are edible, too.

Whether you enjoy radishes raw on a salad or roasted, you will reap the nutrient benefits they offer. A half-cup serving of sliced raw radishes provides just 9 calories for 1 gram of filling fibre, in addition to nutrients like potassium and vitamin C, according to the USDA.

5. Sweet potatoes

While the root vegetables may be fading as the sunlight finds its way in, that doesn’t mean pantry staples, like sweet potatoes, don’t still have a place in your kitchen. “Many people think of sweet potatoes in the fall and winter months, but they are available year-round thanks to the curing and storage process,” says Sarah Schlichter, M.P.H., RDN, owner of Bucket List Tummy.

No matter the season, sweet taters pack a lot of nutrient goodness. According to the USDA, a 1-cup serving of cubed sweet potato provides 3 grams of filling fibre and an excellent source of vitamin A, an important nutrient for reproduction, vision and immune health.

Plus, thanks to their flavour profile, Schlichter notes that sweet potatoes “pair beautifully with several spring favourites, like citrus fruits, greens, mushrooms and beets.” Consider picking up fresh seasonal herbs and greens, like green onions and chives, as a topper for loaded sweet potatoes.

Tips for mealtime success this month

Keep these tips in mind from Harbstreet and Schlichter for mealtime success this month:

  • Don’t ignore frozen or canned vegetables. Try mixing in seasonal fresh produce along with less perishable frozen or canned vegetables. The nutritional difference is negligible, and you’ll potentially save on your grocery bill.
  • Spring-clean and organize your spaces. You know the saying, “out of sight, out of mind”? It applies here, so set up your pantry, freezer and fridge in a way that’s geared toward you and your eating style.
  • Tap into flavor enhancers. Simple ingredients, like dried herbs, spices and olive oil, are amazing to add a burst of flavor to summer salads, pasta salads, dips and fresh vegetables. Check your inventory of these and refresh where needed.

The bottom line

Having a well-stocked kitchen can help you meet your nutritional needs when time is tight and meal-prep determination fades. While seasonal produce picks, like avocados, asparagus and radishes in April, will bring fresh flavour to your kitchen, other foods, such as edamame and sweet potatoes – as well as frozen and canned veggies and simple flavour enhancers – are also great additions to your culinary arsenal. Pair these superstars together to make tasty, nutritious meals come to life in a matter of minutes.

Original source: https://www.eatingwell.com/

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