Onions are one of the most common vegetables in the word. Readily available year-round, onions are often the supporting flavor in a dish, not usually the main event. In Spring, however, when the first fresh onions of the year begin appearing in gardens and local markets, we have the opportunity to appreciate onions as the juicy, naturally sweet and savory vegetables they are. While there are a few different types of onions commonly sold in stores, in fact there are many different varieties that all have subtly different flavors. “Green” onions, also known as scallions or Spring onions, are young onion plants harvested with their green tops. Green onions and other types of fresh onions that are sold with their tops still attached should be eaten quickly and stored in the refrigerator. Onions with no tops and paper-like skins have been cured, or dried once mature, so that they can be stored for longer periods of time. This kind of onion should be kept in a cool, dry place with good air flow, such as in a paper bag in a pantry. Refrigerators are too moist to store cured onions for long, as the wet environment can cause them to sprout. However, once a cured onion is cut any remaining pieces should be stored in the refrigerator if the whole onion is not used immediately. Nutritionally, onions are a good source of Vitamin C, and also contain fiber, Vitamin B6, and potassium. See below for healthy recipe ideas starring onions, or learn more about onions and view their nutrition facts at the USDA's Seasonal Produce Guide.
March is National Nutrition Month®, an annual event created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This March, people of all ages in the Central Sierra have the opportunity to learn more about how to eat healthy foods they enjoy with the theme “Personalize Your Plate.” As we move through life, our nutritional needs change over time, and our food preferences may change as well. Find resources to help you personalize your plate through all life stages at MyPlate.gov/Life-Stages.
This website has healthy recipes, practical tips, and information tailored for each different life stage, based on the most up to date research. Find strategies to introduce new foods to toddlers; healthy snack ideas for children; cooking tips for young adults; information for eating healthy during pregnancy; ideas for adults who want to stay active and move more; information on the unique nutritional needs of older adults; and much more. All of the resources are easily searchable based on your life stage, so you can find information that matters to you. No matter where you are in life, this March is a great time to make healthy changes.
More information and nutrition-themed activities from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to celebrate healthy eating are also attached below.
Do you or someone you know need assistance getting enough healthy food to eat? Find out about food assistance programs in the Central Sierra that can help: http://cecentralsierra.ucanr.edu/CentralSierraNutrition/Community_Resources/.
One sure sign of Spring in California is the appearance of asparagus. The green stalks of perennial asparagus plants only grow for a short time each year, making this one of the most seasonal of vegetables. March is a great time to enjoy asparagus while it's abundant in local markets and gardens. A good source of Vitamins A and C, asparagus also contains some fiber, iron, and even protein. A bunch of asparagus often needs to have the base of each spear trimmed or snapped off, as that part may be woody. However, test a spear to see if the base is truly woody, to avoid wasting more of the tender vegetable than needed. Fresh asparagus is delicious quickly steamed or sautéed and dressed with a squeeze of lemon juice, but it's also a great addition to many dishes. See below for healthy ideas to cook with asparagus, or learn more about asparagus at the USDA's Seasonal Produce Guide.