Staff Blogger: Josh Hilgenberg, Journalism/Creative Writer Intern

Kale-Strawberry-SmoothieThe winter is relenting, and spring is on its way! Not only does that mean we’re only one season away from summer, but it also means there are plenty of ripe fruits and vegetables to start eating.

Thinking about spring vegetables, there are two important concepts to keep in mind – hard frosts and light frosts. Hard frosts are around 25-28 degrees Fahrenheit, while light frosts are around 29-32 degrees. The type of frost that occurs affects produce in different ways, and makes some taste even better than it usually would.

Like the name implies, hardy produce love hard frosts. Anything in the lower 20’s is great for foods like broccoli, kale, leeks, mustard greens and spinach. Kale, for example, becomes sweeter when it grows during a hard frost. Try and give it a second chance if you’ve had it before and didn’t like it! Proper growth does wonders for vegetables.

Now for lighter frosts. Semi-hardy produce thrives in these conditions. Cauliflower, carrots, celery, radicchio, lettuces and Irish potatoes are what you should look out for if winter in your area was fairly mild.

Next time you stop at the grocery store, be sure to keep this in mind. It’ll help you eat healthier and even encourage you to try new things you might not have before.

The best part of trying new food isn’t just looking at it though – it’s into something delicious. Here’s an easy way to turn that tasty (or terrible, depending on your opinion) fruit into something great. Take my word for it, I was hesitant at first too, but if I like this then any kale hater will too.

My dad’s favorite way to take advantage of the spring harvest is making a cold kale smoothie with pineapple and strawberries. He starts with a few scoops of plain Greek yogurt in the blender. You can use vanilla too if you want. Then, he adds a handful of fresh or frozen fruit depending on the season. We always like to keep a bag of mixed fruit in the freezer just in case.

After that, comes the kale. Don’t be afraid to have a heavy hand with it, even if you don’t like the taste – it’s full of vitamins, and the flavor is easily diluted in all the other ingredients.

If you decide you don’t want to be too risky, that’s okay too. Try a little, then next time just add more or less. Part of cooking is making it into something personal by putting your own flare into it, so never be afraid to experiment!

For a colder drink, feel free to add ice, but keep in mind that if you use frozen fruit, that’ll bring down the temperature. Once you have all your ingredients in, blend to the consistency you like best and enjoy!

If you want to, you can even mix and match combinations – like I said earlier, that’s part of the fun of cooking and enjoying seasonal foods! Fruits like cherries, grapefruit, kiwis, oranges and strawberries are all spring fruits that would love to hop into your smoothie.

Try the recipe and let us know what you think – what fruit did you use?