Discover your new favorite springtime vegetables
Michelle von Hahn
Welcome to Next Gen Natural, a column where we share a Gen Z perspective on natural health and wellness. I’m Michelle—alive’s Digital Assistant and creator of the Healthy Num Num food blog. I love healthy living and want to inspire you to integrate wellness into all parts of your life, regardless of your age.
This spring, sidestep your usual spinach salads and try something new. Switching up the vegetables you eat not only provides you with a greater variety of nutrients, but also lets you experiment with new taste profiles. Plus, eating seasonal produce is more eco-friendly, fresher, and cheaper. Although Gen Z is known to have a high level of interest in plant-based eating, research shows that they are also less likely to eat and cook with fresh veggies compared to other generations. It can be intimidating to experiment with a new-to-you ingredient. My advice is to first choose one veggie you’d like to try and then build a meal around it or look for recipes that include it. You may not initially reach for these underrated spring veggies, but, once you do, you’ll realize how delicious and easy it is to add them into your everyday meals.
There are two varieties of fennel—the seeds that are generally used to make spices and the bulb, which is often eaten as a vegetable. Commonly consumed after dinner in many South Asian countries, fennel seeds aid with digestion and relieve stomach bloating and gas. Looking to make a healthy, crunchy, and fresh-tasting salad? Try this Fennel, Apple, and Radicchio Slaw or Grapefruit and Fennel Salad with Chicken and Avocado.
Do you stare at screens for long periods of time and find that your eyes dry and tired by the end of the day? Eating asparagus can help support healthy vision thanks to its high levels of vitamin A, which moisturizes your eyes. This Asparagus Egg Loaf is great for meal prepping and can easily be made vegan by substituting the smoked cheese for your favorite dairy-free type.
While beets vary in color from white to yellow to red, some of the most beneficial nutrients in beets are only found in the red ones. This Beet Green Falafel with Gingered Beet Hummus recipe uses all parts of beets by making the falafel with the beet greens and hummus with the beets. These falafels are high in plant-based protein from the cooked chickpeas and chickpea flour, which will help with feeling full longer.
Also known as Roman kale or strawberry spinach, Swiss chard is full of nutrients like vitamin K, which is important for healthy strong bones. Like kale chips, turn the crisp leaves into crunchy chips with this Curry Swiss Chard Chips recipe. Looking for a springtime brunch recipe? This Warm Swiss Chard and Tomato Skillet Salad with Poached Eggs is a delicious option.
Fiddleheads are edible ferns and most often found at farmers’ markets or small specialty grocers. This simple but delicious Orecchiette with Pesto and Fiddleheads recipe mixes steamed fiddleheads with pasta, a shallot, Parmesan or Romano cheese, and Fiddlehead and Walnut Pesto. Make this pasta recipe vegan by replacing the cheese with a dairy-free version.
Equally delicious eaten from a jar or prepared fresh, artichokes contain almost as much potassium as bananas, which is important for nerve and muscle function. Three spring veggies—artichokes, leeks, and new potatoes—are used in this Baby Artichoke Salad, and this Italian Portobello Mushroom Burger includes an artichoke tapenade.
Leeks can be enjoyed in soups and stews, thinly sliced and raw in a salad, or roasted in the oven with other vegetables. This Creamy Mushroom and Leek Soup is a comforting meal that’s quick and easy to make. For a delicious lunch option, try loaded Leek and Mushroom Tartines with Wilted Watercress.
Watercress is a great source of bone-strengthening vitamin K, calcium, and folate. For a raw recipe, this Watercress and Radish Salad is a fresh and light option. To add protein to this salad, add in a cooked lean meat, such as chicken, or try roasted chickpeas. Watercress is also delicious cooked, and this Dilled Buttermilk, Potato, and Watercress Soup is an easy-to-make meal.
Radishes originated in China and Japan and are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. They have a slight peppery and spicy flavor and are often sliced and mixed into a salad, such as this Pea and Radish Salad with Miso Tahini Dressing recipe. You can also try pickling radishes by following this recipe and then adding to salads, bowls, and wraps.
A cross between snow peas and garden peas, sugar snap peas are crunchy and have a slight sweet taste. This Creamy Alfredo with Sugar Snap Peas recipe is a vegan version of traditional Alfredo pasta but just as delicious. Since the entire pod is edible, snap peas also make a great snack when paired with a dip.