Ready to explore some great new fruits and vegetables? April has a fantastic colorful array of fresh seasonal produce try! Learn how to properly pick and store each, along with easy family friendly recipes to use! Your family will learn to be adventurous eaters one month at a time.
I am super excited to announce that this month’s Produce Adventurers Challenge has a sweet prize sponsored by Olivia’s Organics! Scroll down to the bottom for more details!
Why it is important to Eat Seasonal.
Focusing your meals around eating foods that are “in season” might seem like a trend, but there are some awesome advantages to eating this way!
- It will help you save money on your groceries (because we all know strawberries in January are super expensive!)
- The produce you do buy will be at its peak season –
- it tastes better
- it’s cheaper
- it has the best nutritional value.
How to incorporate new foods into your meal plan.
For some, adding new and different foods into your meal plan can seem stressful. Learning to cook a new recipe or with a new ingredient can seem so daunting, especially if you don’t know where to start, if your family is picky, or if you aren’t even sure what to do with a new ingredient.
The best place to start is the simplest – you don’t need a ridiculously fancy and overly complicated recipe. Incorporating a new ingredient or seasoning into the types of foods your family already eats will help ensure that they are more likely to try it. That way it seems like a trusted, well known “safe” food and not something scary and alien.
For more information on how to make meal planning easy, read my post about How to Meal Plan Like A Boss (and download the awesome free printable workbook!).
How to get kids to try new foods.
Knowing how your kids respond to food is super important here. Do they tend to love roasted or grilled vegetables but won’t touch them if they have been steamed? Will they eat anything if there is something to dip it in? Will they eat anything covered in cheese, or baked into a casserole? Knowing this information and incorporating it into your new food experiences is seriously key!
Getting your kids involved in this experience is really important, too. Have them help you pick out a recipe to try, take them to the store with you to find the ingredient, and have them help you prepare it. The more involved your family is in the entire process of trying a new food, the more likely they will be to try it!
For more information on how to get your kids (and spouses, too, maybe!) interested in trying new foods, read my post on Raising Adventurous Eaters.
Below you will find just a few of the peak April Produce, in a rainbow of colors. I challenge you to try ONE new food this month!
With its long red and light green stalks, rhubarb is easily recognized as a spring treat! Did you know that rhubarb is a vegetable? Yup! The tart stalks are actually the only edible part of the plant – the leaves are actually poisonous! Rhubarb is a low calorie food (minus all the sugar that is usually added in recipes to counter act its tartness), it has low start content, and lots of fiber! It is also a good source of magnesium, Vitamin C and K, calcium and manganese.
How to Pick Rhubarb
When rhubarb is ripe, it will be deep crimson, rosy pink, or even have pink streaked with green. The most important part is to make sure you pick stalks that are nice and firm and have no blemishes. Don’t buy or pick stalks that are limp, shriveled looking or spotted with brown.
How to Store Rhubarb
The absolute best way to store rhubarb is to wrap it loosely in foil. Keep it snug enough to prevent the stalks from drying out, but don’t make it airtight. When stored this way, rhubarb can be stored for 2+ weeks!
- Crispy Rhubarb Lemon Chicken Bake – This Crispy Rhubarb Lemon Chicken Bake makes an easy one pan meal! A tangy Rhubarb marinade caramelizes the chicken while baking. The lemon slices on top give it extra sweetness. A chicken bake that’s paleo friendly and super flavorful. Don’t forget the Crispy rhubarb shaving that go on top! Crucial for texture and flavor.
- Pork Chops with Rhubarb Compote – This simple pork chop recipe is the perfect dish to serve for a weeknight dinner. Add a side of Spring Peas with Mint and you’re ready to go.
- Salmon with Rhubarb Sweet Chili Sauce – Sweet and savory with a touch of heat, this saucy rhubarb salmon is a perfect quick and easy meal! Great for those busy weekdays!
Papayas are native to Mexico and South America. Snacking on some papaya is a sure way to feel like you are in the tropics! Papaya are great additions to salads, smoothies, and more! Papaya is a great digestion aid (random fact – my mom feeds papaya tablets to her rabbit to help digestion, especially when shedding is a big problem and he ingests too much fur!), it only contains 60 calories for the whole thing, has tons of Vitamin C, a good chunk of Vitamin A, and is also a good source of folate and Potassium. Papaya also contains an enzyme called papain, which breaks down tough protein chains found in muscle meat. People have been using papaya to tenderize meat for though sands of years! Apparently Christopher Columbus called it “fruit of the angels’ because of tasted so good!
How to Pick “Papaya”
Select papaya that is mostly yellow with a bit of green. Allow them to fully rupee at home. When the skin is bright yellow you know its time to eat! It should feel firm yet yield to gentle pressure, and feel heavy for its size. It should also smell sweet.
How to Store “Papaya”
Ripe papayas should be used within a few days. They will ripen at room temperature, or even faster if you place them in a paper bag. Once ripe, that should be refrigerated to slow down the ripening process – they turn to mush fast so use them quickly!
- Grilled Steak and Papaya Salad – This steak needs some marinating time, but its a great way to get ready for summer!
- Pan Seared Mahi Mahi with Mango Papaya Salsa – Pan seared Mahi Mahi topped with a tropical mango papaya salsa. The Mahi Mahi is cooked in coconut oil and a little butter to give it a crispy, brown exterior that pairs perfectly with the mildly spicy fruit salsa.
- Thai Pork and Papaya Brown Rice Bowls – Mixing sweet, juicy papaya into a savory brown rice bowl with gingery pork and fresh cilantro is one of the best things that will happen in your kitchen.
Apparently there is a huge debate whether it is “starfruit” or “star fruit”. But no matter if you think it is one or two words, I bet you know what they are! But probably not what to do with it, right? The starfruit is such a fun fruit! I love its star shape when sliced! They are fat free, cholesterol free, sodium free, a good source of fiber, and an excellent source of Vitamin C!
How to Pick Starfruit
Select firm, shiny starfruit that are yellow without a lot of brown to the skin, except at the points. They kind of ripen like a banana – green is not ripe enough, and brown spotted means its overripe.
How to Store Starfruit
Star fruit will ripen when stored at room temperature. When you can smell their aroma they are ready to eat! When ripe, store in the fridge for up to a week.
- Orzo Salad with Starfruit Salsa – This fun salad is great for a picnic, a salad, or add a protein like chicken, shrimp or black beans to make it into dinner!
- Coconuty Starfruit Baked Chicken – Is there a dish that wouldn’t look and taste better without starfruit slices on top?
- Shrimp and Starfruit Stir-Fry – Easy, fast and perfect for a weeknight dinner. Serve on top of brown rice and fresh baby spinach.
Whether or not you are one of hte lucky few who get stinky pee when you eat asparagus, there are tons of great reasons to enjoy this spring vegetable! It is packed with Vitamins A, C, E, K, B5, and minerals like folate, iron, copper, calcium, protein, and fiber! It is low in fat and calories! It also contains a lot of the amino acid asparagine, which is a natural diuretic. Besides green, it also comes in purple and white! Purple asparagus has lots of anthocyanin, which helps your body fight against free radicals.
How to Pick Asparagus
Pick stems that are small and slender, as they will be the most tender. You want to pick tops that are dry and tightly held together. Make sure no part of the head or stalks are slimy.
How to Store Asparagus
Store asparagus in the fridge. The tips will dry out if you leave it too long. You will have to trim off the dry ends before you eat (they are tough). Keep the rubber band on the bunch and trim off 1″ from the end. Stand the asparagus up in a jar with an inch of water and loosely cover with a plastic bag. Change the water often to keep to clean and fresh.
- One Pan Lemon Parmesan Chicken and Asparagus – lightly breaded garlicky lemon parmesan chicken and asparagus all cooked on one pan.
- One-Skillet Steak and Spring Vegetables with Mint Mustard Sauce – This One-Skillet Steak and Spring Vegetables with Mint Mustard Sauce is an elegant dinner that’s easy enough for weekday entertaining. Steak, peas and asparagus cook up together in just one pan!
- Asparagus Bundles – I love these little bundles of springtime— asparagus, pancetta, and parmesan cheese wrapped in flaky puff pastry.
Technically, its called “Red Belgian Endive” or sometimes “French Endive”. Endive is a great source of folate, potassium, calcium, magnesium, Vitamins B6 and C, and thiamin and copper. It also has lots of fiber and helps support digestive health. You can enjoy it raw in salads, or grilled, braised, sautéed, or added to soups.
How to Pick Endive
Pick heads that are firm and crisp. Select heads that have tips with a pale, yellow-green color. Avoid heads that are wilted or the leaves are turning brown.
How to Store Endive
You will want to use endive fresh – do not freeze or can it. It stores best when wrapped in paper towels and stored in a plastic bag for 2-3 days.
- Charred and Smoky Endive – GUYS! Have you ever even though of grilling a lettuce?! TRY IT!
- Endive Salad with Persimmons and Hazelnuts – This easy salad is perfect for later winter/early spring. Full of fresh flavor and great textures!
- Endive, Radiccio and Blood Orange Salad – This is another great salad for later winter and early spring. Crispy, juicy, and full of flavors!
Daikon is a type of radish! It is a long , white root and grows primarily in the SW and East Asia. It is often pickled or used in diced form in soups, salads, curries, rice dishes, or with condiments. It contains bioflavonoids, which are related to Vitamin C and help boost lung function. It also contains amylase and protease, which are both enzymes that help aid in digestion and the breaking down of carbs and proteins. They are also rich in fiber. They are a low-carb food and do not spike blood sugar. They also contain potassium, iron, copper, and folate. The leaves are edible, but have a spicy bite, so mix them with other things and use in small quantities!
How to Pick Daikon
Pick daikons that are firm, smooth, and have crisp roots attached. Avoid any with cracks or bruises.
How to Store Daikon
If your daikon comes with its leaves attached and you want to keep and use them, remove them from the root when you get home and store separately in the fridge. Store in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
- Crispy Daikon Fries – these are crispy fries are really versatile and super delicious!
- Daikon Carrot Salad with Sesame Ginger Dressing – this crunchy salad only takes 10 minutes to make, and has so many great flavors!
- Korean Beef Rice Bowls with Spiralized Cucumbers and Daikon Rice – This slam dunk meal has amazing flavors!
And now, my friends, I have a challenge for you! If adding new fruits and vegetables to your meals is important to you and your family, you are totally going to want to join in on this monthly challenge! I challenge you and your family to try ONE of these peak (MONTH) Produce items this month!
Will it be something you have never attempted before? Will it be something you once tried & didn’t like?
Whatever the case, I challenge you to get your whole family on board and try something new!