What's In Season: March & April

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What's In Season: March & April
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Eating what's in season has plenty of perks. Meat, veggies and fruit in season save you money since they're more readily available, and food that's grown in the ground and nurtured by current climate conditions simply tastes better than out-of-season or hothouse options. "Diets rich in omegas, vegetables, lean fish, root veggies and legumes make for a sexy, smart, healthy and vibrant you," notes Candice Kumai, author of "Pretty Delicious" and guest judge for "Iron Chef America" and "Top Chef." "Knowledge -- it's powerful stuff on your plate."

Rhubarb
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Rhubarb

Rhubarb's tart and tangy flavor lends itself to myriad desserts, including rhubarb pie and crumble. Also try a rhubarb jam to accompany fresh-baked rolls or a rhubarb relish to balance out the flavor of a flaky white fish.

Artichokes
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Artichokes

Artichokes are an excellent source of dietary fiber, magnesium and vitamin C. For a simple way to prepare them, coat them in olive oil and add a dash of salt and pepper before throwing them on the grill. Alternatively, roast them in the oven. Cook the artichokes until they're softened throughout.

Oysters
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Oysters

Fresh oysters make for an ideal appetizer or main course. When you buy them, make sure the shells are tightly shut and don't open them until just before serving. You can eat oysters raw on the half shell -- nestle half shells on a bed of crushed ice and serve with lemon wedges.

Avocado
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Avocado

This green-shelled fruit provides roughly 20 essential nutrients, including vitamins A, E, D and folate; potassium; and monounsaturated fats, says the California Avocado Commission. Add fresh slices to a salad, burger or toast. Also try mashing it with lemon juice, diced tomatoes, onions and salt and pepper for an easy guacamole dip.

Morel Mushrooms
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Morel Mushrooms

This delicacy is in season for only a short time, so buy when -- and if -- you see these mushrooms at your local grocery store. Morels are known for their light, buttery taste, so prepare them in a way that brings out their flavor instead of masking it. One time-honored way to prepare morels is to roll them in an egg wash and fry them with butter.

Peas
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Peas

Fresh peas are as beautiful as they are delicious. Add shelled peas to a fresh salad or saute them in olive oil with other seasonal vegetables. Another option is to make a pureed pea soup, topped with crispy bacon.

Salmon
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Salmon

Salmon is high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, and the USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests eating fatty fish such as salmon at least twice a week. Lightly salt and pepper the raw fish and bake, grill or sear it until it's cooked through.

Turnips
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Turnips

Turnips are a root vegetable with a slightly sweet taste. Their texture is akin to potatoes or beets, making them ideal for mashing, roasting, sauteing or pureeing into soup.

Radishes
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Radishes

While turnips are slightly sweet, radishes are a spicier root vegetable. Slice fresh radishes and toss them into a salad to add crunchy texture, or add them to a potato salad for the same effect. You can also pickle thinly sliced radishes and serve them with fish.

Strawberries
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Strawberries

Fresh strawberries provide the perfect balance of sweet and tart. Create a strawberry compote to complement homemade pancakes or dice them for a sweet relish and pair with a flaky white fish. Keep things simple by cutting strawberries in half and sprinkling them with sugar for a sweet dessert that also offers health benefits.

Spinach
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Spinach

Packed with iron and vitamins A, C, K and folate, spinach is one of the healthiest leafy greens you can consume. Eat it raw in a fresh salad (strawberries and spinach work very well together). Also try sneaking spinach into everyday foods. For example, spinach works well in macaroni and cheese, lasagna, scrambled eggs and tuna salad.

Oranges
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Oranges

Oranges are wonderful eaten as is, and they also add depth to a variety of dishes. For example, orange zest brightens dessert bread and pasta salads, and orange juice adds a nice contrast when drizzled over meats, especially game meats such as in-season venison or rabbit.

Kiwi
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Kiwi

With a fuzzy exterior that requires careful removing, kiwi may seem like a high-maintenance fruit. Don't let that dissuade you from using it in recipes this spring, though. Include kiwi in fruit smoothies, add fresh slices to frozen yogurt or include it in salad with other seasonal foods such as spinach, strawberries, avocados and oranges.

Leeks
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Leeks

Leeks are versatile vegetables that often get the shaft from home cooks who aren't quite sure how to use them. When in doubt, make soup. Slice off the root, remove the outer leaves and then rinse thoroughly, advises the Good Food Channel website. Add the chopped leeks to potatoes and other vegetables in a vegetable or chicken broth and cook until tender. Add a dollop of sour cream and serve hot.

Brussels Sprouts
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Brussels Sprouts

Children everywhere dread the thought of Brussels sprouts for dinner, but this green veggie is actually quite tasty when prepared well. Try baking Brussels sprouts with cream and cheese. Top with extra crispy breadcrumbs to seal this savory deal.

Dandelion Greens
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Dandelion Greens

Though sunny dandelions are often a source of front-yard frustration for homeowners, their greens are a cook's best friend. Add cooked dandelion greens to chopped onions, minced garlic and dried chili pepper seeds to create a simple and earthy side dish.

Pineapple
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Pineapple

Sweet and citrusy pineapples are wonderful on their own or when paired with other foods. For example, pineapple works well with the saltiness of pork. Try it on the grill, sauteed or broiled. When shopping for the ideal pineapple, opt for the largest and plumpest ones you can find, suggests "Cooking Light."

Cabbage
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Cabbage

Cabbage comes from the same family as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and collard greens. It's most commonly consumed in cole slaws and salads and traditionally with corned beef, but cabbage also works well in a variety of soups and when stuffed, pickled or fried.

Broccoli
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Broccoli

Freshly picked broccoli dipped in a tangy vegetable dressing is quite refreshing, but don't be afraid to branch out when it comes to preparing this tree-shaped food. For an easy and delicious side dish, drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over chopped broccoli and sprinkle it with garlic and thyme before roasting.

White Asparagus
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White Asparagus

White asparagus has a taste and silhouette very similar to those of its green brother. The main difference between the two, according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation, is that white asparagus never sees the sun. This prevents the creation of chlorophyll, making the vegetable more pale and its interior more tender. Before roasting, grilling or baking it, remove the outer peel.

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