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Winter Seasonal Eating

winter-vegs

Image source: www.marycrimmins.com

Seasonal eating has become increasingly popular for a number of reasons. Fresh produce that has not been shipped from far away tends to be tastier, more nutritious, and significantly better for the environment.

However, when contemplating the switch to a more seasonal diet, many people are concerned that they will have no fruits and vegetables to eat during the winter months.

Fortunately, there are plenty of colorful, fresh produce options throughout the cold season.

Root vegetables: Root vegetables such as carrots, beets, potatoes, and yams grow well in cold weather and store nicely. Roasted root vegetables drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with rosemary, salt, and pepper are wonderful, healthy comfort food on cold days, and sweet potatoes and yams are lovely with maple syrup or honey.

Winter greens: There are plenty of leafy green vegetables that grow well during the cold months including nutritional powerhouses such as kale, cabbage, collard greens, and beet greens.

Squash: Winter squash keeps well and it can be used in a wide variety of recipes, ranging from soups to baked dishes to desserts. Squash is particularly tasty with spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and cardamom.

Apples: Apples are harvested in the fall, and they can be kept for months in the right storage conditions, providing fresh fruit during the cold months.

Beans: Dried beans are packed with protein and antioxidants, and they’re versatile enough to use with practically any meal (there are even bean dessert recipes available online). Because beans can be dried, they can be eaten year-round without resorting to shipping them in from faraway locations.

Year-round produce: Some produce isn’t season-dependent because it can be grown indoors. These year-round foods include mushrooms, sprouts, and microgreens (baby green leafy vegetables that can be grown on windowsills in shallow trays). Of course, with a good greenhouse, the growing season of many summer loving fruits and vegetables can be extended throughout the winter as well.

Frozen produce: Lots of spring and summer produce can be frozen, including fresh berries. Nutritional content may be reduced a bit by freezing, but it’s also reduced by storage, so produce shipped in from other places also loses nutritional value.

Sources:
Reardon Stewart, N., “How to ‘Eat Locally’ in Winter,” Boston Globe, 21 November 2011.
Rickman, J.C.; Barret, D.M,; & Bruhn, C.M., “Review Nutritional Comparison of Fresh, Frozen and Canned Fruits and Vegetables. Part 1. Vitamins C and B and Phenolic Compounds,” Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
The George Mateljan Foundation, “What Are the Best Foods to Cook in Winter?World’s Healthiest Foods, 2012.
Zeldes, L.A., “Eating Locally Grown Food This Time of Year Takes Creativity,” Chicago Sun-Times, 10 January 2012.

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