This post was written by our friends at Jones Valley Teaching Farm – an education nonprofit in Birmingham, Alabama that builds teaching farms and runs their hands-on food education program, Good School Food, in Birmingham City Schools. Learn more at jvtf.org.

One the most important things you can do for your health is to eat lots of fresh vegetables. But this can be challenging if you are not sure which vegetables to purchase, how to cook them, or if you and your family will even like them!

At Jones Valley Teaching Farm, we encourage each other to try new vegetables at least three times, cooked in different ways, before we decide we don’t like them, and whenever possible, we try to eat vegetables that are in season.

In season vegetables are vegetables that are being grown, harvested, and sold right now in our region. For example, in Alabama, tomatoes are in season roughly between June and October and collard greens are in season roughly between mid autumn and mid spring.

Vegetables that are in season taste better, contain more nutrients, and often are cheaper than vegetables being grown far away and transported thousands of miles to your local grocery store.

Three of our favorite spring vegetables are swiss chard, radishes, and turnips. You should be able to find these vegetables—in a variety of sizes and colors—at your local grocery store or farmers market.

Not sure how to cook them? Try these quick and simple recipes. We think you’ll be hooked!


Swiss chard (with eggs or grits)

Ingredients:

Olive or coconut oil (or your preferred cooking oil), one bunch of swiss chard (roughly 8 large leaves), balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, eggs or grits.

Instructions:

Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Remove the center stems from the swiss chard. Chop or tear swiss chard leaves into smaller pieces. Add swiss chard to the oil and sauté for 1 minute. Add a big splash or two of balsamic vinegar to the pan and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes until the swiss chard and balsamic vinegar have combined and thickened slightly. Season with salt and pepper, and serve with scrambled eggs or grits. One bunch of swiss chard serves 2-4 people.


Radishes (on buttered toast) 

Ingredients:

Whole wheat bread, butter, 1 medium radish, salt and pepper.

Instructions:

Remove radish greens. Slice radish into thin slices. Toast and butter bread. Cover toast with radish slices and season with salt and pepper. One medium radish serves 2-4 people.


Roasted turnips

Ingredients:

Olive oil (or your preferred cooking oil), 2 lbs of turnips, salt and pepper.

Instructions: 

Preheat oven to 450F. Remove turnip greens. Dice turnips into bite-size pieces. In a large bowl, toss turnips with enough oil to cover each piece completely (but not too much!). Spread out turnips on a baking tray, season with salt and pepper, and place in oven. Check the turnips after 15 minutes. Continue roasting until the turnips are crispy and darker in color, or in other words: roast until you see toast!

Two lbs of turnips serve 2-4 people as a side dish or snack.

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