How to eat what's cheap and in season RIGHT NOW - Spring Edition

Everybody living in the areas affected by the aptly named "polar vortex" say it with me: SPRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!

Cheese and rice, Mother Nature, what got up your butt this winter?!

I know that I'm not the only one with cabin fever, sick of eating stews and roasts. It's about time to get some fresh flavour up in this hizzy house!

Personally, I love the cycle of the seasons. Once upon a time I had a full scholarship to do my PhD at Arizona State University, and for the life of me I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that there really isn't a true seasonal cycle there. People in the southwest US will say that yes, there are seasons, but not like here.

There's nothing better than when the leaves start turning bright orange, red, and yellow after too many humidex warning days in the summer, those days when you feel like you're walking straight into a sauna. Or the first whiff of dirt and new green grass when the snow first melts.

I'm learning that the weather and the changing of the seasons is kind of like raising a toddler. No matter how bad some days are, how hot and sticky, how cold and bone-numbing, how exhausted you are from a baby who has a horrible chest cold AND is getting his molars at the same time ... there is an end in sight for everything.

Usually just when things are at their worst, when you feel like you can't take anymore, you get just a glimpse of a break, of something better. The day that Aleks decided to start walking himself from the house to the car is the day when I saw my first true glimpse of independence from this little man who has ruled our life and needed us for pretty much everything for the past 18 months. Halle-freaking-lulah!

This is how I feel about spring this year. Even though some of the bountiful spring produce won't truly come into season until later in May, or even June, at least it's coming!

Just like in the summer, fall, and winter editions of the "eat what's cheap and in season RIGHT NOW" series, I used this trusty Foodland Ontario availability guide to see when I can stop holding my breath and start seeing my beloved local strawberries at the farm stands and grocery stores, instead of the craptastic ones shipped from California (sorry, California, but your strawberries have some standards to live up to).

Here's what we can start looking forward to eating again, instead of the same roasted root vegetables:

 1. Asparagus: Literally the king of spring veggies, asparagus is high in glutathione, which helps your liver process bodily toxins more efficiently. If you've got PMS or menopause, load yourself up with in-season asparagus and watch your annoying (and sometimes even life altering) symptoms disappear. Interesting fact about asparagus: did you know that everybody's pee smells after they eat asparagus, but only about 1/4 of the population have the gene to be able to smell it?

2. Green peas: 100 calories of these sweet gems are actually higher in protein than 1/4 cup of almonds (not that I promote calorie counting or anything, just a thought!), and they contain osteoporosis-fighting vitamin K and have been proven to reduce your risk of stomach cancer. The best part about green peas is that they are readily available, and may I add affordable, throughout the year in your freezer section. They're frozen very quickly after picking, helping them to retain more nutrients than peas that are shipping fresh from a long distance. Check out the easy peasy recipe at the bottom of this post.

3. Greens: Nature is amazing, giving us foods with each season that help our body to work its' best. This is the story with spring greens, which are high in glutathione and other bitter compounds that help detoxify our liver and get it working more efficiently. Spring is the best time of the year to cleanse, since these detoxifying foods are readily available, and your body can focus it's energy on cleaning the crap out, instead of dealing with too hot or too cold temperatures. While you can buy conventionally grown asparagus and peas without worrying too much about the amount of pesticides on them (asparagus actually doesn't respond at all to pesticides, so farmers don't waste their money on them), greens are important to buy organic, since they're on the dirty dozen list, and loaded with pesticides and other chemicals.

4. Rhubarb and strawberries: Both of these spring fruits are high in vitamin C, helping to boost the immune system, and are high in fiber, helping to tone the digestive system (rhubarb has traditionally been used as a laxative). What's really nice about these fruits that are naturally in season together is that local strawberries that are super sweet help to balance out the tartness of rhubarb without adding huge amounts of sugar, like in those pies that your sweet old church ladies peddle every year. Sugar will cancel out the benefits of the vitamin C, since sugar depresses the immune system, and you want all the nutrition power that these local super foods can provide!

Can I get a final hip-hip-hooray for spring?!

Let's enjoy the hell out of it, before we start complaining that it's too hot and humid.

The question that's on everybody's mind right now is: can you smell asparagus pee? Leave your superhuman smelling ability in the comments below!

Here's the super simple pea recipe that you can whip up in no time flat:

*to save and print this recipe, click on the recipe and it will open in a new browser window. Then just click File>Save As in your browser menu, save it to your computer, and print it from there.