In many parts of the country, a lot of us see winter as a season with little life. The trees are leafless, the ground is frozen, and the fall harvest is long over. But winter still provides us with plenty of delicious, nutritious fruits and vegetables. All we have to do is open our minds and get creative! Below are some in-season produce options and how to enjoy them.
- Beets – maybe you’re more familiar with them canned in slices, but these vegetables burst with sweetness after the first frost. Treat them like sweet potatoes: dice them raw and roast them with olive oil, salt and pepper, rosemary, and garlic at 350*F for ~40 minutes. Pair them with goat cheese and it’s combination that’s to die for.
- Carrots and celery – in winter, it can be hard to get in as much water as we do in the hotter months. These two hearty veggies are perfect additions to broth-based soups that can help increase our liquid intake. Try making your own chicken noodle soup at home!
- Brussels sprouts – some only know this vegetable in its mushy, steamed form, but they take on a whole new dimension when cooked at high heat. After chopping off the hard bottom and placing the sprout on the flat end, slice it into thin ribbons and add it to a hot, pre-heated pan. They will toast up quickly and can be enjoyed with basic seasoning or cooked together with bacon.
- Citrus – oranges, mandarins, lemons, you name it! Citrus fruits shine in the winter, which provide us with a fresh brightness that we all need in the dark winter months. Mandarins make a great snack, and lemons can be mixed with Dijon mustard, olive oil, and salt and pepper to form a zingy homemade salad dressing.
- Which is perfect for those leafy greens – salads may seem like a summer food, but with cooked elements like roasted vegetables and grilled chicken they can turn into a hearty meal with grounding, earthy flavors. Kale is best when hand-massaged in a large bowl for a few minutes with lemon juice and olive oil. It helps to make it softer and less bitter!
- Broccoli and cauliflower – these cruciferous vegetables really shine in the winter and are so versatile, thanks in part to another winter staple: potatoes. Broccoli can be mixed with them and turned into homemade tots, and cauliflower can be cooked through and mixed with potatoes for a lower-carb version of family-favorite mashed potatoes. They also both taste great on their own, roasted in the oven similarly to beets.
- And of course, our favorite squashes – you’ve probably seen those colorful gourd and pumpkin family members presented at the front of every super market. A fun approach is to halve an acorn squash, scoop out the seeds, and roast it face down with olive oil and parmesan cheese. They make perfect bowls to serve a creamy tomato soup in… don’t forget the grilled cheese!
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– Samantha Marks, RD, LDN