“April is the cruellest month,” T. S. Eliot once wrote. Clearly, he was a fan of local food. Despite the longer days and slowly warming temperatures, local food stalls are still bare and farmers are only beginning to plant what seems like a depressingly far-off harvest.
That’s why it’s all that much more important to fill your plate with mood-boosting foods, full of omega-3s, vitamin D, and vitamin B. And given that allergists are predicting a worse-than-ever allergy season this year, it wouldn’t hurt to build up your immune defenses, either! Grab your shopping cart and load it up with these food cures to get you through the cruelest month of the year.
Wild-Caught Pacific Sardines
Forget their bad reputation. Sardines are nutritional powerhouses, filled with protein and omega-3 fatty acids, that can be tossed with pasta or subbed for tuna to make a sardine-salad sandwich. Because they’re low in mercury and abundant in the oceans, sardines are among the safest fish you can eat. But if you’ve only experienced the canned filets, you’re missing out. Fresh wild-caught Pacific sardines, the most sustainable, are available right about now behind your local fish counter.
Mushrooms of all shapes and sizes are available year-round, but in April, it’s the morel mushroom that foodies clamor after. Morels belong to the same family as truffles, so they command a high price. In addition to their woodsy flavor, though, morels have the highest levels of vitamin D of almost any plant.
Photo: (cc) LadyDragonflyCC/flickr
Kale and Collard Greens
Plagued by spring allergies? Load up on leafy greens, such as kale and collard greens. Both contain high levels of phytochemicals, mainly carotenoids, which, research suggests, protect against the development of seasonal allergies. Carotenoids are best absorbed by your body when you eat them with some sort of fat, so dress your greens with olive oil or another one of these healthy fats.
Grow Your Own Collard Greens.
Another side dish for your allergy-fighting arsenal: Black-eyed peas have some of the highest levels of the B vitamin folate, and a study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that people with higher levels of folate were less likely to suffer from common allergies, including those to pets, cockroaches, and molds.
How to Grow Black-eyed Peas and Other Beans.
Thoughts of maple syrup may conjure up images of changing leaves and brisk fall air, but it’s springtime when sugary sap starts flowing from maple trees. Find some freshly tapped syrup you can add to your oatmeal, and you’ll benefit from 54 antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
But why stop there? Maple trees aren’t the only trees to produce sap, and researchers at Cornell University are helping maple-syrup producers expand into walnut and birch syrups, tapped from trees that are more plentiful in the United States and not subject to the temperature swings that can hinder maple-syrup production. You might even find small-batch walnut and birch syrups at your local farmers’ market.
Read More: Canada's Spring Maple Harvest.
Yum: Maple Mousse.
Ready to go foraging for dinner? Chickweed, a common weed, is poking its first green shoots out of the dirt this time of year, and, according to foraging expert Wild Man Steve Brill, it tastes best in the early spring in late fall, before trees and taller plants shade it out. It’s rich in vitamins A, B, C, and D.
Learn More: 8 Weeds You Can Eat.
Photo: (cc) Dawn Endico/flickr
Though green peas are one of the first vegetables to emerge in spring, the season for them lasts, in some areas, just 2 weeks. So eat them up now! Just 1 cup will provide you with an entire day’s worth of allergy-fighting vitamin C, and peas are one of the best sources of thiamine, or vitamin B1, a vitamin that boosts your mood and wards off depression.
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