woman at rotunda gym with boxing gloves punching boxing bag

Spring Foods That Pack a Healthy Punch

Food & Fitness Tips from Personal Trainers at Our Baltimore Gym

Sunshine and warm weather aren’t the only things guaranteed to lift your spirits during spring. Also good for the body and soul this season is an abundance of vibrant, versatile and tasty produce that packs a delicious and nutritious punch. If you’re looking to add some seasonal fruits and veggies to the menu, start with these five picks.

1. Apricots

The old adage may be about an apple, but it applies as well to this heart-healthy fruit. Rich in fiber, packed with antioxidants, low in calories, and high in vitamin C, vitamin A, iron and potassium, “An apricot a day can also keep the doctor away.”

Not sure how to enjoy them? While dried and fresh apricots can be added to everything from salads to desserts, apricots are also the perfect grab-and-go snack.

2. Asparagus

With a season beginning in February, ending in June, and peaking in April, these fiber- and folate-full stalks are known for their potent umami flavor.

Says NY Times writer David Tanis of cooking with this crisp, sweet veggie: “Asparagus is amazingly versatile: it can be steamed, simmered, roasted, battered, grilled, sautéed or wok-fried. Thinly sliced, it’s even wonderful raw in a salad. The cooked spears can sport a variety of guises, from simple salt and pepper seasoning with butter or olive oil, to more complex sauces like beurre blanc. But it also holds up quite well to bold spicy treatment — anchovy, garlic, olives and chiles are all highly asparagus-compatible.”

3. Jackfruit

Never heard of jackfruit? Well, it’s about to be on your radar in a big way. Whole Foods included it in its roundup of top food trends for 2018. This large green fruit grows abundantly in warm climates but is increasingly easy to find.

So what can you do with this wacky-looking wonder? A lot, as it turns out. Enthuses Cooking Light: “Jackfruit can be cooked while unripe in curries and sauces or while ripe by adding it to desserts, making it one of the most versatile fruits on the market. Its texture shreds easily, making it a natural meatless addition to tacos, nachos, salads, and even imitation pulled pork sandwiches. Vegetarians, vegans, and those wanting the texture of pork without the ridiculous calories it brings can all rejoice!”

4. Pineapple

Craving all of the amazing feels and tastes of summer? Well, you don’t have to wait three more months or jet set to the Caribbean to experience it. Instead, reach for a pineapple.

Pineapples aren’t just refreshing; they’re also extremely good for you. As nutritionist Laura Flores told LiveScience: “Pineapples contain high amounts of vitamin C and manganese. As well as having high amounts of manganese, which is important for antioxidant defenses, pineapples also contain high amounts of thiamin, a B vitamin that is involved in energy production.”

All this, and pineapple is also fat-free, cholesterol-free, low-sodium and low in calories, with just 82 calories a cup!  Other tropical spring fruits to put in you in the mind for summer this spring include mangos, lychees and grapefruit. (Fancying a dip with this talk of summer? The ocean may not be ready for you, but the pool is. Sign up for an aquatic session to shape up Michael Phelps-style.)

5. Ramps

You’ve probably seen them at your farmer’s market, but may have steered clear of them. Next time, grab a bunch instead!

Fitness education
There are many different ways to punch up your fitness plan this spring.

Sometimes called “wild leeks,” ramps look like scallions but share much in common with onions and garlic. Says Food Network of these green-topped goodies, which can be eaten cooked or raw: “Ramps are low in calories (about 50 per cup) filled with vitamins like A and C. Members of the Allium family are also known for their antioxidant content as well as their ability to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.”

A few simple ways to include ramps in your diet? Add them to salads, pasta or risotto; puree into soup or salad dressing; or even toss them on a pizza. Just make sure to move quickly; a true seasonal specialty, ramps are available only for a very short window of time.

We may have highlighted just five of our favorites from the season’s bounty, but the fact is that spring is full of wonderful ways to eat right, including everything from broccoli, butter lettuce, and beets to spinach, strawberries and snow peas. But don’t forget that if you really want your wellness to “spring forward,”  exercise is also a big part of the equation. Working with a personal trainer offers the perfect combination of food and fitness education. Sign up for a personal trainer session to get started today.