How to enjoy spring's delicious, healthly, low-calorie foods. Getty: David Malan

How to enjoy spring’s delicious, healthy, low-calorie foods.
Getty: David Malan

It’s time to put away those winter recipes for squash, roasted vegetables and hearty stews. Spring is the perfect time of year to lighten up your diet and spend less time in the kitchen, while enjoying foods that are packed with nutrition and so flavorful they require very little preparation.

These four, near-perfect spring treats are great in salads, raw or lightly sautéed. Spend Saturday at the green market picking up the best seasonal food for the week.

Asparagus: Most grocery stores manage to have asparagus all year long, but nothing tastes like slender, crisp spring asparagus. Packed with vitamins A, C and K, asparagus tastes great lightly steamed, grilled, sautéed, roasted or raw with the creamy dip of your choice. Top cooked asparagus with a little parmesan cheese or wrap it in prosciutto or lean roast beef. It’s even great in omeletes or as a side with scrambled eggs.

Apricots: Lots of people pass fresh apricots by because purchased out of season, they can be fibrous and tasteless. Yet, few things compare to the creamy sweetness of a perfect apricot at its peak in spring. Apricots should be a deep orange/yellow color without a trace of green. Firm and plump, and just a little bit soft to the touch, apricots should also have a strong aroma. When ripe, they are best peeled an eaten raw or sliced into a salad (especially with arugula and baby greens and a little bit of goat cheese). Broil or saute with a little bit of butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a scrumptious, and easy to make, dessert.

Strawberries: Spring is strawberry season. If you do not munch in this delicious fruit all year, don’t forget to pick some up in the spring. Reach for ruby red, incredibly fragrant strawberries that are firm and free of soft spots. They are so low in calories and full of nutrients, you can happily eat your fill. Just 50 calories of strawberries has 149 percent of your daily dose of vitamin C, plus they are a good source of folate and fiber.

You can’t beat a ripe, naked strawberry, but they are also fantastic tossed into a smoothie, sliced and topped with fresh cream, dipped in dark chocolate, or tossed with fresh spinach, olive oil, walnuts and sweet red onion for an amazingly satisfying and healthy salad.

Sugar Snap peas: Sugar snap peas can be stringy and tough, but not when they are picked in late April and May. Garden peas are sweet, tender and flavorful in the spring. Peas are also good sources of vitamins A, C, K, folate and fiber, as well as a some protein.

Rinse them and munch them raw for a perfect, healthy snack; steam them for just two or three minutes then toss them with olive oil, lemon juice, chopped mint and shallots. Saute in minutes, then sprinkle with sesame oil and a few drops of low-sodium soy sauce. Or, cook in canola and roasted sesame oil with strips of chicken, pork or beef, add onions and strips of sweet pepper for a savory, crunchy stir-fry.

 About Fierce Fridays — Tips for Weekend Well-Being

We each cherish those precious days off at the end of the week, but increasingly those of us who are charter members of the sisterhood of the stressed and overworked are losing our Saturday and Sunday leisure time to weekend work and domestic duties.

To make sure that you do something every weekend that’s just for you, we’ll be sharing a little advice to make those 48 hours a great time to recharge your batteries, bring a little good news and fun into your life, or discover a quick and easy way to improve your health.