Register now for healthy spring eating

Whole FoodsAlong with warmer weather, one of the best things about spring is the anticipation of in-season produce. Biting into a sweet seasonal strawberry can be all a foodie needs to wave goodbye to Ol’ Man Winter.

To help individuals learn about spring’s best fruits and vegetables, Naperville Public Library has partnered with Whole Foods Naperville to present the program Spring Greens. Angela Dennison, the market’s healthy eating specialist, will prepare healthy samples of in-season foods during the program, which will be from 7 to 8:30 p.m. April 9 at Whole Foods, 2607 W. 75th St., Naperville.

Dennison also will discuss why in-season, local produce is beneficial to consumers’ health, their wallet and the environment.

“When items are in season, they are in abundance which means less money for the consumer as well as fresher product,” she said. “When we eat out of season, our produce can come from thousands of miles away, which means a lot of time has passed between farm to plate. As soon as a vegetable or fruit is harvested, the nutritional value starts to decrease. By the time we eat our tomato from Mexico, it is possible that weeks have passed from harvest, travel, storage, the sales floor of our local grocery store to our kitchen.”

Some peak produce to look for in the spring are asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, peas, cherries, greens, leeks, lettuce, onions , radishes, rhubarb, spinach, sprouts, squash and strawberries. During the program, attendees can sample some of Dennison’s healthy recipes made with some of these spring greens. She said it’s important to use a variety of in-season foods and recipes so as to not get bored.

“It’s fun to think outside the box with food,” she said. “Sometimes we get too used to the way we cook that we make the same food over and over. I like to show that incorporating certain foods and recipes are not as hard as one may think and that it can still taste amazing while still being healthy.”

And there is nothing like bringing home spring and summer produce from a local farmers market. Dennison agrees.

“Have you noticed how amazing local tomatoes are in the summer? I love a tomato that you can smell the dirt on. It smells like a garden, and that’s because that produce is fresh and still at its nutritional peak,” she said.

To preserve freshness in foods, Dennison said pickling is popular.

“If you have a home garden, pickling is a brilliant way to utilize all of your produce and hard work you’ve put into that garden,” she said. “You are essentially saving the seasons to enjoy throughout the entire year.”

To learn more about spring produce, sign up for this adults-only program. Seating is limited, and advanced registration is required only through Naperville Public Library. To register, email the names, phone numbers and email addresses of each attendee to marketingintern@naperville-lib.org – any missing information will delay registration. Participants will either receive an email confirming their registration or will be placed on a waiting list with a confirmation number.