Best fruits for the cold seasons
Sparkly snowflakes, cozy blankets, rich hot chocolate… Winter has a lot going for it, but fresh produce is usually not on that list. In colder climates, eating locally through the winter can be downright challenging. But we’re here with some good news: Every meal doesn’t have to revolve around potatoes and onions until April. With a bit of advanced planning and creativity, it’s possible to eat fresh fruits and vegetables with plenty of nutrients and flavor all winter long.
Read on to learn about some of the unexpected vitamin-rich cold-weather foods you should stock up on right now.
Time to head to the cabbage patch, kid! This super-healthy, budget-friendly vegetable is a close cousin to other cold-weather favorites like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, and broccoli . Cabbage is loaded with vitamins and minerals (Vitamins C and K and folate, in particular), fiber, antioxidants, and anti-carcinogenic compounds called glucosinolates. Some studies claim that the spherical vegetable can even reduce cholesterol and lower risk of cancer and diabetes .
- Peak Season: While some strains of cabbage are available starting in July, most varieties love cool weather and are ready for harvest through the fall and winter.
- Storage Tips: Tightly wrap individual heads of cabbage in plastic and stash in the refrigerator to keep ‘em fresh for up to a week.
- How to Eat It: Cabbage’s nutritional benefits are most pronounced when raw, so slice up a few leaves to add crunch to salads or stir fries.
2. Brussels Sprouts
These trendy sprouts are finally getting their turn in the spotlight. The Brussels sprout, aka cabbage’s mini-me, boasts some of the same health benefits as it’s big bro. Like other cruciferous veggies, Brussels sprouts have high levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants that can protect DNA from oxidative damage .
- Peak Season: September through February
- Storage Tips: Brussels sprouts will keep in the fridge for a few weeks. The outer leaves will shrivel, so remove them just before cooking your sprouts.
- How to Eat It: Toss halved sprouts with olive oil and roast until crispy and brown. Top with a light coating of brown butter and sage for a decadent (but still healthy) side dish.
3. Winter Squash
Get ready to taste the gourdy goodness! Acorn, butternut, kabocha, and delicata squash are all at their prime during the fall and winter. Golden squash flesh is loaded with healthy goodness like carotenoids, Vitamin A, and potassium .
- Peak Season: Winter squash hit the markets around late September and stick around through early March.
- Storage Tips: Even though they seem pretty solid, squash continue to ripen once they’re picked. Slow down the process by storing them in a cool, slightly humid environment (like, say, a basement or cellar). Under the right conditions, squash will keep for up to three months.
- How to Eat It: Since squash is healthy, fairly inexpensive, filling, and darn tasty, it’s no wonder there are thousands of awesome recipes for them. Get started with these five delicious dishes.
Spuds get a bad rap, but they’re a staple food in many cuisines for good reason. Sure, potatoes are starchy and high on the glycemic index, but they’re also filling, inexpensive, and boast an impressive nutritional profile including potassium, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, and even protein . Fancy purple taters may even help lower blood pressure and boost antioxidants. While sweet potatoes are considered a healthier choice (since they’re loaded with beta-carotene, vitamins A and C, and fiber), regular old white spuds are still nutritious as long as you don’t fry ‘em or mash them with tons of butter and cream.
- Peak Season: Various varieties of potatoes are available year-round.
- Storage Tips: Store potatoes in a dark, cool, well-ventilated area for about one month. Keep spuds away from onions and apples. At room temperature, potatoes will keep for one to two weeks.
- How to Eat It: Try a healthier take on the classic baked potato bar. Twice-baked spuds stuffed with kale, broccoli, and cheddar make for a tasty and comforting meal.
Ideal for flavoring anything from soup, to grain salads, to pasta, to meat, onions are a year-round kitchen all-star. They might make you cry, but onions are actually pretty healthy . The unassuming veggies are low in calories but surprisingly high in vitamin C and fiber. The oils found in onions can lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol
- Peak Season: Various types of onions are available all year round.
- Storage Tips: Stash onions outside the fridge (they can go soft if refrigerated) in a cool, dry place for several months.
- How to Eat It: Sautéed white onion jazzes up this fig, ricotta, and arugula flatbread pizza.
Sweet, earthy, and deep red, beets are pretty unique in the vegetable aisle. Beets contain antioxidants called betalains, which can help fight cancer and other degenerative diseases . They’re also rich in vitamins A, B, C as well as potassium and folate . They’re also a natural source of sugar (about nine gramsper serving), so those looking to cut down on sweet stuff should take note. Not bad for a bright-red bulb, right?
- Peak Season: Beets are available early spring through late fall.
- Storage Tips: Store beet roots in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a month.
- How to Eat It: Toss roasted beets and carrots with lentils and plenty of fresh herbs and spices to make a hearty, healthy vegetarian main dish.
Celeriac is probably the ugly duckling of winter produce. It looks like a misshapen, greenish-white blob covered in little roots. Appetizing, right? But beyond the odd exterior, celeriac boasts a tasty, subtle flavor — somewhere between parsley and celery — and a hearty texture. It’s low in calories, high in fiber, and rich in vitamin C (a powerful antioxidant) and phosphorus (which contributes to strong bones and teeth).
- Peak Season: September through March.
- Storage Tips: Like other root veggies, celeriac will stay fresh in the fridge for up to a month.
- How to Eat It: Sub in celeriac for almost any root vegetable. Cube and sautée it for a tasty, healthy substitute for hash browns.