March 2020 Issue
Culinary Corner: Welcome Spring With Fruits
By Jessica Ivey, RDN, LDN
Vol. 22, No. 3, P. 66
Although spring doesn’t officially start until the end of the month, by March 1 I’m ready for a change of season and the accompanying transition from heavy winter foods to lighter, fresher flavors. I start scouring the produce section for sweet, juicy strawberries and even pineapples.
While strawberries are available year round, they’re at their prime in the spring, which means the seasonal fruit will be more flavorful and juicier. California produces about 88% of US-grown strawberries,1 while Florida produces the second most of any state.2 Research local farms in your area to identify opportunities for clients to pick their own strawberries, which can be a fun family activity that promotes fruit consumption.
If you live in the United States, you probably won’t find a pineapple producer in your home state. Hawaii, once the leading producer of canned pineapple worldwide, has fallen off the map for pineapple production. Smaller producers still grow pineapples in the state, mainly for the local market,3 but, as of 2015, just 0.5% of the total acres of land in Hawaii utilized for agriculture was used for growing pineapples.4 Most pineapples instead are grown in the Caribbean, where the growing season is from December to February and August to September.5 So while they’re not exactly in season during the spring, their sweet-tart flavor is perfect for taste buds longing for the bounty of seasonal fresh fruits to pop up in the summertime.
Many people are unfamiliar with how to cut a whole pineapple, so doing a demonstration and tasting along with providing a simple recipe can be one way to encourage clients to incorporate this naturally sweet fresh fruit into their diets.
According to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, average fruit intake is below the recommended amount for almost all age-sex groups except for children aged 1 to 8.6 In my experience working with clients, I’ve noticed that many people consider fruit as a part of breakfast, as a snack, and as a side along with lunch, but few people think of fruit as part of the main dish. Fruit can add flavor and natural sweetness to many dishes while boosting intake of this nutrient-dense food group.
The following fruit salsa is full of fresh spring flavor and pairs well with salmon for a crowd-pleasing fish taco filling. It also can be served with whole-grain pita chips for a snack or on top of chicken.
— Jessica Ivey, RDN, LDN, is a dietitian and chef with a passion for teaching people to eat healthfully for a happy and delicious life. Ivey offers approachable healthful living tips, from fast recipes to meal prep guides and ways to enjoy exercise on her website, JessicaIveyRDN.com.
1. California Strawberry Commission. California strawberry farming. https://www.calstrawberry0.com/Portals/2/Reports/Industry%20Reports/Industry%20Fact%20Sheets/California%20Strawberry%20Farming%20Fact%20Sheet%202018.pdf?ver=2018-03-08-115600-790. Published January 2018. Accessed November 15, 2019.
2. Strawberries. Agricultural Marketing Resource Center website. https://www.agmrc.org/commodities-products/fruits/strawberries. Updated April 2019. Accessed November 15, 2019.
3. Bartholomew DP, Hawkins RA, Lopez JA. Hawaii pineapple: the rise and fall of an industry. HortScience. 2012;47(10):1390-1398.
4. Statewide agricultural land use baseline 2015. State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture website. https://hdoa.hawaii.gov/salub/. Updated 2016. Accessed November 15, 2019.
5. Chaney C. The season for pineapples. SF Gate website. https://homeguides.sfgate.com/season-pineapples-78197.html
6. US Department of Health and Human Services; US Department of Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 8th Edition. http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/. Published January 7, 2016. Accessed November 15, 2019.