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12 Spring Players That Lead Secret Lives As Superfoods

Quick! What's a superfood? Maybe blueberries, kale, and avocados come to mind? But what about asparagus, artichokes, and fennel? Yep, they're nutritionally dense superfoods, too. Now that fresh springtime produce is cropping up, we're unmasking 12 top seasonal favorites that are superfoods in disguise. Some will be familiar, and some might be new to you. Every pick includes recipes to help you enjoy them at their best.

Spring Superfoods

Artichokes

Raw Artichoke and Cross Section

Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers
When it comes to antioxidants, artichokes outrank many other foods we usually think of first, such as blueberries and dark chocolate. Artichokes are high in fiber and folic acid, they can soothe an upset tummy, and help lower "bad" LDL cholesterol. They also support brain, liver, and bone health, and help balance blood pressure.

Favorite Fixes

Artichokes

Photo by Nanby

Artichokes
Herbed Grilled Artichokes
Garlic Sauteed Artichokes

Find more artichoke recipes.


Arugula

Arugula

Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers
Aka "rocket," this spicy green is rich in cancer-fighting phytochemicals, as well as folic acid, vitamins A and C, and ranks way up there for vitamin K. Ounce for ounce, arugula delivers more calcium than spinach.

Favorite Fixes

Arugula and Hummus Mini Pizzas

Photo by Kim's Cooking Now!

Arugula and Hummus Mini Pizzas
Pineapple Rocket Salad
Pesto with Arugula

Find more arugula recipes.


Asparagus

Asparagus

Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers
These harbingers of spring pack plenty of fiber and vitamins A, C, E, and K, along with a powerful detoxifying compound called glutathione that helps break down carcinogens. Eating plenty of asparagus could help you stay mentally sharper as you age, and you might even avoid vicious hangovers. And that whole thing about asparagus making your pee smell bad? It's all down to a harmless sulfuric compound.

Favorite Fixes

Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms

Photo by CookinBug

Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms
Simply Steamed Asparagus
Get tips for buying and storing asparagus, plus five easy ways to cook asparagus.

Find more asparagus recipes.


Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli Raab

Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers
A cross between broccoli and Chinese kale, this leafy hybrid vegetable also goes by a host of other names, including broccoli raab, rapini and Chinese broccoli. Eat the stems, leaves, and florets to get a solid dose of antioxidants and vitamins C, K, and A.

Favorite Fixes

Paleo Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

Photo by Mangia Paleo

Paleo Broccoli Rabe and Sausage
Broccoli Rabe with Roasted Peppers
Maria's Broccoli Rabe


Fava Beans

Fava Beans

Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers
Also knows as broad beans, favas are high in protein to keep you strong, and fiber to keep your cholesterol in check. Along with an alphabet of vitamins, fava beans contain a substance called L-dopa, associated with supporting muscle function.

Favorite Fixes

Green Risotto with Fava Beans

Photo by Rachel Monfredo

Green Risotto with Fava Beans
Vegan Fava Bean Salad
Foul Medammes (Spicy Fava Bean Dip)


Fennel

Fennel

Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers
Anise-scented fennel bulb has been useful in the kitchen and for medicinal purposes since ancient times. High in fiber and potassium to keep your heart going strong, it also contains an aromatic essential oil called anethole that's proven to fight fungus and bacteria.

Favorite Fixes

Spring Salad with Fennel and Orange

Photo by Sunnybyrd

Spring Salad with Fennel and Orange
Roasted Carrot and Fennel Pork
Leek and Fennel Soup
Find more fennel recipes.


Leeks

Leeks

Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers
Leeks share the antioxidant properties of the rest of its allium genus (think garlic, onions, etc.) as well as heart- and liver-friendly enzymes.

Favorite Fixes

Salmon with Caramelized Leeks

Photo by Jessica

Salmon with Caramelized Leeks
Low Carb Cauliflower Leek Soup
Sauteed Carrots and Leeks
Find more leek recipes.


Nettles

Stinging Nettles

Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers
One person's weed is another person's cup of tea. Full of a range of vitamins, plus calcium for bone health, nettles are also used to detoxify your body and even soothe premenstrual discomfort.

Favorite Fixes

Stinging Nettle Soup

Photo by Shannon Angel Henszel

Stinging Nettle Soup
Nettle Pesto


Peas

Peas

Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers
English peas, snow peas, and sugar snap peas may be different in form and flavor, but they're all excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Eat your peas for healthy bones and balanced cholesterol.

Favorite Fixes

Sugar Snap Peas with Mint

Photo by mommyluvs2cook

Sugar Snap Peas with Mint
Mashed Peas
Mediterranean Snow Peas
Find more recipes for green peas.


Purslane

Purslane

Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers
This tiny, lemony succulent grows like a weed and packs more omega-3 fatty acids than some fish oils. It's also an excellent source of vitamin A, rivaling many green leafy vegetables.

Favorite Fixes

Authentic Lebanese Fattoush

Photo by MissFahrari

Authentic Lebanese Fattoush
Read more about the weed.


Radishes

Radishes

Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers
Sharp, peppery radishes come in lots of colors and sizes, from tiny globes to giant white daikons. Vitamin C: check. Antioxidants: check. Folates, minerals, detoxifying agents: check, check, and check.

Favorite Fixes

Roasted Radishes

Photo by Deeli

Roasted Radishes
Summer Radish Salad
Radish Revival
Find more radish recipes.


Ramps

Ramps

Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers
Also known as wild leeks, this member of the allium family is loaded with vitamin A for healthy teeth, bones, and skin. Ramps have antioxidant vitamin C, plus selenium and chromium. They're not around long, so grab them up when you see them.

Favorite Fixes
Sri Lanka Beef Curry
Ramp Potatoes
Ramp Dip


Rhubarb

Rhubarb

Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers
These super-tart stalks carry loads of vitamins A and K, as well as B-complex vitamins. The gorgeously ruffled leaves are not edible, just in case you were wondering.

Favorite Fixes

Tangy Rhubarb Salsa

Photo by Miss Diane

Tangy Rhubarb Salsa
Rhubarb Strawberry Crunch
Recipes to kick off rhubarb season.
Did you know? Rhubarb also has a savory side.
Find more rhubarb recipes.


Romanesco

Romanesco

Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers
When cauliflower marries broccoli, gorgeous romanesco happens. Its flavor is more cauliflower-like, but a bit nuttier. Like its parents, romanesco carries a full range of good-for-you properties like vitamins A, C, and K, plus folate, fiber, and antioxidants. And it looks like it came from outer space. Just sayin'.

Favorite Fixes

Roasted Romanesco

Photo by fireflyrebel

Roasted Romanesco
Actually, you can cook romanesco the same way you would cook cauliflower or broccoli.


Strawberries

Strawberries

Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers
Low-cal, low-carb strawberries fight inflammation and deliver a big dose of vitamins A, C, and E. Antioxidants? Got 'em. BTW, Strawberries dipped in dark chocolate gives you a double dose of antioxidants.

Favorite Fixes

Asian Pear and Strawberry Smoothie

Photo by lutzflcat

Asian Pear and Strawberry Smoothie
Strawberry Spinach Salad II
Balsamic Strawberries
Find more recipes for strawberries.

Related

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Vanessa Greaves

About Vanessa Greaves

Good food, friends, and fun are always on the menu. Check out things that make me go yum: foodelicious On Instagram On Twitter @vanessa_greaves