By Christy Tapocsi, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

We are in the peak season for so many tasty fruits and vegetables. It’s the best time to find fresh produce! In Middle Tennessee, we are very lucky to have a wide variety of fresh markets all over the community on any day of the week. Today, I’m sharing five of my favorite items that you can find at a local farmers market this time of year, why they’re great picks, and simple ways to use the foods. Let’s get started!

SLIDESHOW: 5 Spring Farmers Market Favorites

    1. Strawberries

    Strawberries are nature’s candy. They are naturally sweet and nutrient-dense. Strawberries also help you hydrate! They are a good source of antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium, folate and fiber. Enjoy in a salad, smoothie, or of course, simply by themselves.

    2. Summer Squash

    There are so many fun types of squash in the summertime: zucchini, pattypan, crookneck, straightneck and more. Squash is nutrient-dense. It’s a rich source of B vitamins, fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and more. Try putting your favorite type of squash in a stir fry. Also enjoy it grilled, sautéed or roasted.

    3. Tomatoes

    Tomatoes have a lot of nutrition for such a bite-sized food. Each one is packed with vitamin A, vitamin C and lycopene (an antioxidant). You can also eat a lot of them at once. One cup of cherry tomatoes has only 26 calories! Enjoy as a salsa, a sauce over noodles, on top of a baguette or raw in a salad.

    4. Dark Leafy Greens

    So many wonderful greens to choose from. How do you decide? Collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, kale, and spinach are nutritional powerhouses. They contain multiple vitamins, calcium and much more. Get brave and blend some kale or spinach into a smoothie. Or try your leafy greens roasted, sautéed, or in a soup or salad.

    5. Specialty Flavors

    Okay, the fifth item on my list isn’t technically one thing, but this category may just be my favorite. The farmers market is a great place to find unique and specialty items such cheeses, pastas and spices. Typically, these items are cheaper there, too. So, when you go shopping for your staple goods, keep an open spot on your list for something new.

    Be open-minded! You may come across a food that you have never seen, heard of or tried before. The farmers market is a great place to change that. Ask questions, and see if you can try samples. Many farmers can also provide recipes and tips!


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