A Family Garden:Creating Fresh Parsley and Herb Salad

May 31, 2009 · Posted in Gardening: Growing Your Own Foods · View Comments 

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As the temperature outside begins to warm up, families head to their local garden or hardware stores in search for gardening materials.  Many people are eager for bright color after a cold and dreary winter, others are very enthusiastic about growing their own produce.  These days, to reduce grocery costs, many families are growing their own food. Gardening with your family has other great benefits, too.

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Yesterday my 8-year old son and I went crazy on picking out herbs and vegetables at the garden center. Of course we had to get a Jalapeno pepper plant. He loves them! We picked up basil, oregano, thyme, dill, a few tomato plants, pumpkin, squash and some different types of peppers to start.  Rosemary is an easy herb that requires little watering. Starting a garden with your children is not only a great way to connect with them but with nature too.  It also helps build an appreciation for the food we eat.  We decided on planting some herbs and vegetables in a couple of wine barrels to start so it can be easily manageable for the kids.

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We deciding on trying pumpkins this year. You will need to dedicate an entire box to growing a few pumpkin plants, but the results are quite amazing. Your kids will love following the progress of these plants.

With herbs and vegetables comes fresh salads for any occassion. This salad will take you approximately 25 minutes to make. I came across it years ago and it’s very tasty and fresh.

Parsley and Herb Salad

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups tender 1-inch curly-leaf parsley sprigs

2/3 cup tender 1-inch Italian parsley sprigs, or more curly-leaf parsley

1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons each minced fresh tarragon and majoram leaves

1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves

3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese

1 small clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt and pepper

Directions:

Mix parsleys, basil, tarragon, majoram, sage and parmesan. In a capped jar, shake garlic, oil, water, and juice to blend. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

If making salad and dressing ahead, chill separately, airtight, up to 4 hours To serve, shake dressing; mix gently with herbs.

A great recipe to enjoy all the fresh herbs from your garden! More garden updates from our family to yours coming soon!

Summer Time Tips to Cut Your Cooking Time in Half and Adding More Time for Family

May 29, 2009 · Posted in Kitchen Tips · View Comments 

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Now that the kids are less than two weeks away from getting out of school and the days are getting longer, you’ll want to spend more time in with your kids and outdoors than you do in the kitchen. Getting started and incorporating these tips will add hours or more each week for fun quality time with your family. After all, no one wants to labor over a hot stove during the summer.

Meeting after meeting, hours of working on a computer, getting the kids dressed, organized and ready for a summer play date, taking them to the shopping mall. These factors can present not only a challenge, but can also be an opportunity to change your cooking habits for the summer months to come and provide a great menu for your nightly family dinner.

Let’s get started on implementing some new techniques on making summer time cooking quick, fun and easier on you and your family.

Do you hate the last-minute frenzy when you are trying to put a meal together and everyone is hungry and in a hurry? Be ready by having a Shopping List. You don’t want to go to the grocery store without one. We tend to spend more on items we don’t need or that are not on sale. Every week grocery stores come out with a weekly ad. Take a quick peek at the ads as your making your list. Make your meals according to what items are on sale. Even when you are physically at the grocery store, sometimes they will have even more added savings with in-store coupon ads next to the shopping carts. Always check those out. Once you have your shopping list made, your ready to go shopping.

I try and do most of my shopping when I have time afterwards to be in the kitchen. Just choose one day that works for you. Once your in the kitchen, your are ready to start.  Once you’ve created your meals, it’s time to freeze them. This way, while your making dinner on Sunday, take out Monday’s dinner and put it in your refrigerator to thaw and it will be ready for Monday. During the Spring and Summer months, I double recipes for meals that will freeze well. It will definitely save you and your family an hours worth of cooking time you can turn into family time.

Make Your Own Spices~ Every wonder what to put on your food? Why not try and create your own family spice creation! Prepare a blend of your favorite spices ahead of time. Just make sure you write it down somewhere so when you run low you remember what you created. For example, lemon pepper, garlic powder, hickory salt, paprika and dried mustard makes a quickie rub for steaks. Do the same for spaghetti, vegetables, etc. Try putting your marinade on your meats before you put them in the freezer. While they are thawing, they are marinating. Pop on the grill, cook and serve. How fast was that?

Leftovers~ If your leftovers start to pile up in the refrigerator or your family wants something new, freeze them before they go bad. Designate on spot in your refrigerator to put leftovers. This way they don’t get pushed to the back of the refrigerator and you forget them. This is where Mr. Mold decides to come for a visit. Mr. Mold is not welcome in our house.

Coupons~ As I mentioned previously, it’s always good to check your weekly grocery store ads. They tend to put extra coupons in their ads for additional savings. Searching the Internet for coupons is also a great asset to your shopping.

Alternatives for Eating Out~ Home cooked meals can be such a great experience for your family and is less expensive than eating out. For a family of 6, you could easily spend over $100 on a complete meal for the family. Spending that $100 to eat at home from food you’ve prepared can feed a family of 6 for at least 3-4 days. Spending good quality time with your family is pricesless. Pick a night where everyone contributes to preparing the meal. Kids find this so rewarding.

21st Century Crock Pot~ This is a lifesaver in the kitchen. This is a must 21st Century Crock Pot for every kitchen. Cooks your food in the microwave or oven. Make your meals in a matter of 29 minutes or less. Great way to make a meal in a matter of minutes and very little prep time. It’s also fun and easy to experiment with recipes by combining those ingredients you know will go well together. An all year round kitchen tool that definitely helps when you have little energy to work in the kitchen or want a quick meal.

Have a Picnic~ When the day starts cooling down, enjoy a light meal outdoors. If you’ve been feeling couped up from the weather, this will help your family take a break away to enjoy a relaxing meal together. Invite friends to go along. Make it a potluck, socialize and have fun! We have a wonderful backyard where we can choose to have a pool party theme or just a backyard grilling adventure.

Hope everyone has a great summer and enjoy the warm weather!

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Summer Potato Salad Adds to A Great Family Barbecue

May 25, 2009 · Posted in Recipes · View Comments 

Summer Potato Salad

Don’t you just love potato salad on a nice summer day? It’s a great picnic dish. At a family barbecue, it’s the perfect compliment to any barbecue hamburger. You can use Idaho, Red or Yukon Potatoes.  In this particular family recipe, I used Red potatoes. Good-quality red potatoes will be firm, smooth-skinned and have bright-red coloring. They should have few eyes, and those few eyes should be shallow.  Red potatoes are available in your local grocery store all year long. I have made my own recipe for the past 20 years. It’s a very simple, basic, flavorful and chunky recipe. I like being able to taste the chunks of potato. No potato salad should ever be mashed.

 

summer-potato-salad

Ingredients

3 pounds red potatoes

1 cup chopped celery (include some celery leaves)

2 hard boiled eggs

1 cup red onion

1 cup diced dill pickle

1/4 cup Ranch dressing

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon cumin

Directions:

Wash and rinse potatoes. Cut in 1/3 slices. Place potatoes in pot and fill with cold water just above potatoes. Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and let simmer 25 minutes or until potatoes can be pierced with a fork. Remove from heat. Drain and set aside. Let potatoes cool for approximately 1 hour. Using a knife, slice potatoes so they are in smaller bite size pieces. You can do this in the bowl they are in. Avoid mashing potatoes. To the potatoes add sliced egg, celery, onion and pickles. In another bowl mix remaining ingredients thoroughly. Add to potato mixture. Chill for 2-3 hours. Serve.

 

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For an added special touch, add sliced black olives on the top. This is a perfect salad for a summer picnic.

This is one of many family recipes that will be available in my cookbook coming soon. Please visit again soon or send me an e-mail  to be kept posted on the cookbook release. As always Enjoy the kitchen!

Breakfast Pizzas: Spend Quality Time In The Kitchen With Your Kids

May 19, 2009 · Posted in Kids In The Kitchen, Recipes · View Comments 

I found this great recipe for Breakfast Pizzas that I had to share. It’s low on calories but big on flavor. It’s a perfect recipe for kids in the kitchen, with a little help from mom or dad whisking and scrambling the eggs, kids can take charge on toasting and assembly. Take a deep breath – I know you imagine ingredients all over the floor and maybe even on the walls.  But with a little bit of attention, the quality time you will spend with your child will be fun and productive, not disastrous.

Ingredients

2 whole wheat English muffins,
split and lightly toasted

Cooking oil spray

4 eggs

4 slices turkey bacon,
cooked and chopped

1 tsp tarragon

Salt and pepper to taste

4 slices tomato

2 oz grated reduced-fat cheese

Directions

Spray medium frying pan and preheat over medium heat. In a bowl, whisk the eggs. Stir in cooked bacon, tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour into pan. Scramble eggs lightly over medium heat until eggs are set. To assemble: Place one slice of tomato on English muffin half, top with scrambled eggs, and sprinkle with a tablespoon of cheese. Place English muffins on cookie sheet and broil 3–5 minutes until cheese melts. Serve immediately.

Makes: 4 servings

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 161, 65 calories from fat; 6 g fat; 2 g saturated fat; 0 g trans fat; 20 mg cholesterol; 483 mg sodium; 15 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 13 g protein

If you have ideas for Cooking with Kids topics that I should include in future, please leave a comment.

Simple Grilled Chicken and Asparagus Salad

May 16, 2009 · Posted in Main Dishes · View Comments 

I was an exhibitor at the Spring Home and Garden Show  this past April. Across from me was a man selling Calolea Olive Oil  in many flavors.  I’m a sucker for a good bottle of Olive Oil so I purchased two, one was a Garlic Olive Oil (my family loves garlic), the other bottle was their Extra Virgin Olive Oil which won the bronze in 2008 at the Los Angeleles Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition. I’m using the California Garlic Olive Oil in my recipe. I highly recommend you try this Extremely Delicious Olive Oil.

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 It’s a perfect olive oil to drizzle over pasta, use as a marinade for fish, chicken and meat. Saute it with fresh vegtables. Or simply just dip your favorite breads.

In this recipe I used the California Garlic Olive Oil on my Asparagus. Very simple, nothing fancy. I made the Grilled Chicken and Asparagus Salad from leftovers. So basically with this recipe, I created two meals.

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Ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I only used 1/2 chicken breast for salad recipe)

1 pound Asparagus (I only used 4 Asparagus for salad recipe)

1 small red onion

1 beef tomato (I like to use the tomatoes on the vine because I love their smell, as if they were just picked)

1 teaspoon salt

fresh cracked pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic and herb seasoning

Mesquite Barbecue Sauce

1 teaspoon honey mustard

Directions:

Cut the ends off the Asparagus, lay them flat on a cookie sheet, drizzle with the California Garlic Olive Oil, approximately 2 teaspoons, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Toss until well coated.  Spread evenly. Heat broiler or grill.  Broil or grill for 8 minutes, turning occassionally or until tender.

For the chicken, I used 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts. Season the chicken breast on both sides with 1/8 teaspoon salt, freshly cracked pepper and sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon garlic and herb seasoning. I happen to have Old Bay on hand. Place in broiler or on the grill. Broil 6 inches from heat, 20 minutes on each side. Last few minutes, baste with a mesquite barbecue sauce. The Mesquite barbecue sauce adds a sweet tangy flavor to the chicken.

Salad

From the leftover chicken, I chopped 1/2 cooked chicken breast and 4 Asparagus. I sliced  two slices of the tomato and a couple slices of the onion.  Mix 1/2 teaspoon honey mustard with a dash of the California Garlic Olive Oil. Drizzle over the chicken and Asparagus mixture, toss coating evenly.  Serve. This is only one serving but you can add more chicken and Asparagus to make more servings.

grilledchickenasparagus-salad

 

This is a perfect summer salad. Very light and simple.

The Adventures of Cooking: Busy Moms Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

May 15, 2009 · Posted in Main Dishes · View Comments 

Over the past years, I’ve experimented with a lot of recipes. Having four children with different taste buds is always a challenge for a parent. Wouldn’t you agree?  One likes certain foods that others may not. I always try recipes in different ways so that my children can taste certain foods in other ways that they may come to like. I never try and force them to eat it but I do ask that they try. A big part of them trying the food is helping in the kitchen. If your children help you in the kitchen, and prepare the food, you may see that they will try something that they have had a hand in making. It’s rewarding to them. They get excited. Children show enthusiam when they’ve done something fun and talk about it for days. Make it a fun experience in the kitchen!

This recipe for Moms Spaghetti Sauce is experimenting with different vegtables. I used bell pepper and carrots in this recipe to add flavor to my sauce and to let my children try foods in new ways. Sometimes I add Zucchini to the recipe if I have it on hand.

MOMS SPAGHETTI SAUCE

Ingredients:

5 cups stewed Italian tomatoes

1pound ground meat

1 pound ground sausage

1 cup minced yellow onion

1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

6 Tablespoons green pepper diced

1 cup shredded carrot

2 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

1 Tablespoon oregano

3 teaspoons sugar

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 cloves garlic minced

2 small cans tomato paste

1/2 cup Merlot wine

 Directions:

In a skillet, over medium heat, cook ground meat and sausage in olive oil until well browned. Remove with slotted spoon and drain meat on a paper towel. Remove all but about 2 tablespoons of drippings from skillet. In hot drippings,add minced yellow onion. Cook until the onion is translucent. Remove from heat. in a stock pot, add meat and sausage mixture, onions and the remainder of ingredients. Simmer for 3-4 hours. Are you a garlic lover, add full cloves of garlic for a delicious taste and find the full cloves while eating! Do you like mushrooms? Add them too. Go ahead and be creative, that is what cooking is all about.

This recipe can also be used for making Sloppy Joes. Instead of Merlot wine, add a good amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. So far my taste tests have proven good. This is a darn good sauce!

This is one of many family recipes that will be available in my cookbook coming soon. Please visit again soon or send me an e-mail  to be kept posted on the cookbook release. As always Enjoy the kitchen!

 

Healthy Kids, Happy Kids: Experiencing The Kitchen With Your Kids

May 13, 2009 · Posted in Kids In The Kitchen · View Comments 

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Healthy Kids, Happy Kids: Experiencing The Kitchen With Your Kids

I’m really happy to see so many people in the kitchen these days. You know why? Because cooking is so much fun, fun, fun and it makes people happy! I feel so relaxed in the kitchen.

When I was a little girl, I remember watching my grandmother in the kitchen. I saw how our family loved to come over for Sunday dinner to eat her food, and I decided that cooking was something I wanted to be able to do too. I watched everything she did, and of course she let me help in the kitchen. Of course little by little as I grew older, I began cooking by myself. I started with simple stuff like French toast, eggs, vegetable soups and stews.

At first, chopping items was difficult until I created an easy technique for myself ; and getting the recipe just right or creating the perfect sauces and broths of course took time. But, I kept on, and the more I did these things, the better I got. When I was a teenager, I got my first job working in a family owned business. They made Croissants and Specialty Coffees. I learned how to make croissants like cinnamon walnut, fruit filled and even ones with meats and cheeses. I also learned how to make the best lattes and cappuccinos, getting the right amount of froth and layering the coffee just right in the lattes. I was making people happy with those!  The more I spent time in the Cafe, the more experience I got. Best of all, I was enjoying myself while doing it.

I really had no idea how many friends I would make just by showing people kitchen friendly cooking-friends like you. I also had no idea at first how many kids wanted to cook for themselves, but I soon found out. So not too long ago, I told myself, why not write a special cookbook for families and children. Getting involved with Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale has give me more inspiration to write a cookbook and support a worthy cause: Ending Childhood Hunger In America. So here I am writing a cookbook .

It has the kind of foods that kids of all ages can make and enjoy eating. Foods that kids can enjoy making with their family and sharing a great family meal together. My Homemade Spaghetti Sauce and Shakin Chicken are some really easy recipes and great for beginners. There will be lots of recipes to choose from. But before you start cooking, do me a favor and remember the following rules of the kitchen:

Ask Permission:

Kids, remember to ask your parents’ permission before you begin to cook. Best of all, why not let them be your helper in the kitchen? Learning together is fun and a great experience, and the best part is: At the end, you will have made a wonderful yummy dish to enjoy together as a family.

Always Be Safe!

Before getting started in the kitchen, always make sure you read about how to be safe in the kitchen. This is really an important step!

Prepare Yourself!

Read through the entire recipe you want to make and look up any words, measurements or techniques you don’t know. Gather together everything you need–both the ingredients and the tools–before you start cooking. It makes cooking much easier and your not searching for items you need.

Be Clean!

Cleaning is a major part in cooking to me. Your food needs to be healthy and safe and, if you clean as you go, when your ready to actually sit down and enjoy what you’ve cooked, you won’t have a bunch of dishes to worry about.

Remember to have FUN!

Most important of all, remember to have FUN and ENJOY your time in the kitchen and learn to do things your way. Experiment and make changes that work for you. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with experiencing with a recipe to make it your own. After all, everyone’s taste buds are different.

So come on, let’s go–get yourself in the kitchen and get cooking! Have fun, be careful, experiment, and share your creativeness with your family and friends. And remember, as Emeril says, it’s a “food of love” thing….

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Celebrate Mother’s Day

May 10, 2009 · Posted in Improving Family Life · View Comments 

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FOR MOMS

She was there at the beginning
When the world was new to you -
She was there to turn to happy times
Those when, you were hurt or blue.

 She was there to listen to your thoughts
And when you asked, to give advice -
She was there to tell you, “Those don’t match!”
Or, “Hon, you sure look nice.”

She was there with you at nighttime
To help you say your prayers _
She was there to tell you, “It’s alright.”
When you had a dream that scares.

She was there at morning time
To get you up and out of bed -
She was there when you didn’t feel good (or did)
To say, “You’d best stay home, instead.”

She was there when you were hungry
And when you had those dirty clothes -
She was there when you needed her
(How she knew? Only heaven knows.)

She was there at the beginning
And she’ll be there your whole life through -
She’ll be there in your mind and heart
Just like a mother is supposed to do.

by Del “Abe” Jones

Mother’s day at the United States of America

It’s said that Mother’s Day was first suggested in the United Sates by Julia Ward Howe in 1872 as a day dedicated to peace after the Franco Prussian War. The holiday gained its popularity majorly due to the efforts of Anna M. Jarvis.

Anna began a letter-writing campaign to garner support for a national Mother’s Day holiday when her mother passed away in 1905, with the help of friends, Reaching out to influential leaders, including William Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, and John Wannamaker, Anna poured out a stream of solicitations for support of the idea. She believed, mothers deserved their own special day and that it would help strengthen family bonds.
She persuaded her mother’s church in West Virginia to celebrate Mother’s Day on the second anniversary of her mother’s death, the 2nd Sunday of May. By 1911 Mother’s Day was celebrated in almost every state, and flowers quickly became a lasting tradition to express love on the occasion. In 1914, Congress passed a resolution designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day, “a public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of our country.” President Woodrow Wilson issued the first proclamation making it an official U.S. holiday.

Happy Mother’s Day To Moms Everywhere

Demand For Food Assistance Continues To Grow

May 9, 2009 · Posted in Community Service, Fundraiser Events · View Comments 

 

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 NEVADA COUNTY BAKERS COOK FOR A CAUSE

RECIPE FOR ACTION

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Despite the much needed rainy weather mother nature brought us this past weekend, our Great American Bake Sale was a success.  Our booth was moved inside the Nevada City Vets Hall so we were able to set up in the kitchen area. We sold coffee, hot chocolate, tea and a variety of baked goods, jams and marmalades. Approximately 10 moms contributed bakes goods and we received and a few donations from other supporters. I thank you all for your time, support and dedication to our event. We were able to raise $250 within the first couple of hours. That’s pretty good on a rainy day. More donations are being offered from fellow supporters.

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We coordinated our event with the City Wide Yard Sale in Nevada City. As local residents searched for treasures and the best deals they were eager to satisfy their sweet tooth. The smell of cupcakes filled the hall. Our Aloha Obama Cookies, Piggy Pizza Pops, Cookie Pops and Carmel Corn were a big hit. It was a delightful treat to see the expressions on kids faces as they stopped by our booth.

popcorn-balls

 

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According to the Food Bank, monthly distributions to individuals and families has risen sharply with the economic downturn. It is up by one-third in recent months. Every week they deliver 8,880 nutritious lunch snacks to the needest school children. But because of a lack of resources, just as many children who qualify for this service are being denied.

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  • $25 could cover the cost of a 4 dish utensil set to serve children free after school meals.
  • $100 could buy a food carry bag to enable organizations to deliver hot and cold meals to children.
  • $500 could cover the cost for an organization to buy a new deli slicer to prepare sandwiches for 150 children.
  • $1000 could help an organization pay for a staff person to server meals at a meal site in the summer.

people-purchasing-bakery-goods

I want to make a difference in this this world and in my community by participating in the Great American Bake Sale. I can make a difference and affect the lives of many children right now from my own kitchen.

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The Nevada County Bakers is a group of moms joining together in the fight to end Child Hunger in America and in our community. Help us by making your donation today, visit Nevada County Bakers. For more informatiopn about this event or future events, please contact . Check back soon for our Nevada County Bakers Great American Cookbook.

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Thanks to all who supported the Nevada County Bakers Great American Bake Sale. We look forward to working with you in the future.

Healthy Spring Selections: Try Your Farmer’s Market

May 7, 2009 · Posted in Improving Family Life · View Comments 

 
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Have You Visited Your Local Farmer’s Market?

Spring is a great time to enjoy seasonal vegtables and fruits. After a long winter of heavier foods, the light and crisp fruits and vegtables of springs are just what our bodies need.

Try visiting your local community farmer’s market or a “self-pick” farm to enjoy the freshest fruits and vegtables. Stores have to wait for their produce shipments to arrive, which means that the produce they receive may be picked before it is ripe or may be picked before it is ripe or may become overripe during the journey from stem to store. Fresh produce has a higher nutrient content than frozen or canned food, and it tastes better too.  Choose fruits and vegtables that have a vibrant color and are free from bruises.

Here are some fruits and vegtables that ripen in the spring and provide you with health benefits:

Spring Vegtables

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Avoocados
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Fennel
  • Mushrooms
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Rhubarb
  • Snap Beans
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard

Spring Fruits

  • Apricots
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Currants
  • Figs
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapples
  • Strawberries

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