Michigan-Grown Vegetables: 10 Delicious Picks for Your Family to Try
Ready to visit your local farmers market and sample some late spring hometown veggies? Test out our taste guide, first, to get your kids interested.
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Bok choy (also called Chinese cabbage), tatsoi, green mustard and other Asian greens are ready for eating by May. Packed with vitamins, bok choy is also fat-free and low in calories. It also contains plenty of beta carotene, which not only promotes healthier eyes, but also has been linked in studies to building up compounds in the body that help stave off cancer.
Prep them: You can wash, chop and serve bok choy in salads. Or, add bok choy to a stir-fry. I made a stir-fry loaded with bok choy when my kids had a friend over for dinner. I was sure that he would turn up his nose at the meal. Instead, he asked for seconds!
Soft and tender, butter lettuce (also called Boston or Bibb) contains plenty of vitamin K – along with C and A. Vitamin K in particular promotes good bone health. Lettuce, in general, is also full of folates, a water-soluble version of vitamin B that helps boost the body's ability to produce cells. Promoting cell building is especially important for children who are growing up fast.
Prep it: Salad would be the obvious choice for serving your butter lettuce. But beyond the bowl, try something that might appeal to kids even more – lettuce wraps. Use sandwich fixings, like ham and cheese, or other ingredients, like rice and sauteed veggies with a little soy sauce, to fill the wrap. Pack and roll as you would a tortilla.
Technically a fungus (but often lumped in with veggies), the mushrooms you'll find at farmers markets are greenhouse-grown, but they're still full of plenty nutrients – and flavor. They contain anti-cancer promoting chemicals, too. Several varieties, in particular shiitake, have been found to aid in the body's healing. Add anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering, healthy heart-boosting and more to the list and one little button mushroom packs quite a health punch.
Prep them: Mushrooms are great served raw as fingers foods or in salads, added to sauces and more. Their complex flavor adds a distinctive depth to many dishes. Around our house, we regularly saute mushrooms to add to veggie-filled omelets or on warm sandwiches.
Never heard of garlic scape? You're not alone. This garlic stalk appears before the fully developed garlic bulb, which is beneath the ground. Farmers need to cut the scape for the bulb to continue growing properly. Garlic, like its onion cousin, contains numerous health-promoting compounds. But perhaps the one of the prevailing benefits behind garlic is that it keeps your heart healthy in a number of ways.
Prep it: Garlic scape is a bit like a cross between a chive and green onion in texture, but has a milder flavor than minced garlic. Add garlic scape to scrambled eggs or into your omelet batter. Toss it into pasta dishes or salads for a little added zing.
Popeye was definitely on to something when he gulped down spinach for an added boost of strength. This dark, leafy vegetable is full of vitamins, minerals and pretty much everything good for your body. Antioxidant, cancer-fighter, brain booster, anti-inflammatory agent, digestive health promoter: If you're looking for the most "oomph" in your veggies, spinach has it all!
Prep it: Spinach is excellent on its own or mixed with lettuce for a salad. You can add spinach to just about anything – Italian sauces, soups, eggs, casseroles and more. Turner really gets creative with spinach. In his "Better for you Brownie," the rich flavor and dark color comes from a puree of spinach and blueberries. While chocolate and spinach may not seem like a perfect pairing, you should try out the recipe yourself – your kids will thank you for it!