Winter Produce

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By Cara Ayala, RD, CPT, CHC

As seasons change, so do the items that fill the produce sections of markets. Or, maybe the produce is available year-round, but usually with sacrificed flavor. Have you ever tried a strawberry during the winter? It’s a sure bet they aren’t bursting with gluttonous flavor or glowing with that deep, beautiful red pigment that is present during the summer months. This is why eating seasonally is a sure way to eat produce at its peak flavor. Additionally, you’ll benefit from increased variety of produce and the different nutrients that seasonal fruits and vegetables offer.

Have you been to a restaurant lately that doesn’t offer some sort of brussels sprouts creation on their menu? Maybe they are fried with pork belly lardons and finished with a fruit reduction, or, perhaps they are baked and tossed with all the fixings. Brussels sprouts are a versatile winter vegetable that have made their debut on countless restaurant menus and in home-made dishes. Although not a conclusive list, the following are common winter fruits and vegetables you’ll find in stores: kiwi, pomegranate, persimmon, pear, grapefruit, mandarin oranges, tangerines, dates, sweet potatoes, turnips, delicata squash, kale, leeks, collard greens, and turnips.

    Cooking seasonally expands your creativity and taste buds. It gets you out of your routine and comfort zone and provides you the opportunity to create well-balanced, tasty meals. A meal can be as easy as throwing a handful of vegetables and chicken into the crockpot and leaving it to cook all day while at work. Or, comfort yourself with a pot of warm vegetable soup. Soups are an easy, economical and delicious way to incorporate a variety of winter vegetables into your diet. Are you looking for a dish that can be used to make multiple meals? Roasting a large tray of vegetables for the week can come in handy when you want to compliment roasted chicken, or use the veggies as the main component of a meal.

Enough about vegetables - what about those fruits? Add them to your morning smoothie or top your oatmeal with juicy and delicious persimmons or kiwi! Don’t shy away from including winter fruits in your salads - they make a great, healthy addition.

    For an easy way to find out what’s in season in your local area, use the seasonal food guide (link below) to help plan your next grocery list.

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