As we inch closer to the start of Spring (which is just 7 weeks away…not that we’re counting or anything!) and try to keep our New Year’s resolutions on track, we may be finding ourselves in a bit of pickle as the rotation of the same old fruits and veggies – apples and carrots – starts to feel a bit boring. Not to mention those strawberries in the produce section are looking awfully delicious…though we might think twice before paying double the price for out of season fruit.
How can we fight away the winter blues with food? It all starts by knowing what’s in season—and we’re here to share some of our favorites!
Be sure to check out Chef Jen Lamplough’s favorite healthy and easy recipes for some quick inspiration on how to add these winter produce wonders into your weekly meal plan.
Grapefruits are one of the most nutritious and versatile winter fruits around. They make great healthy snacks, appetizers and just drinking their juice is said to help boost energy levels. Pomegranates promote digestion and help keep other organs (including your liver, kidneys and gums) healthy. For a kid-friendly fruit recipe, check out Chef Jen’s citrus salad.
Health benefits: Grapefruits pack a number of health benefits, including a big dose of vitamin C (80% DV in one medium fruit), potassium, and lycopene. They also boost your metabolism, lower insulin levels and help fight off a variety of health problems like fatigue, fever, and can even help prevent lung and prostate cancer. Read more about the many health benefits of grapefruits here.
How to buy: Ripe grapefruits will have a slightly pink or reddish tint to them, and will be firm all the way around, like it’s ready to burst.
These little, juicy reminders of summer are a cross between a sweet orange and mandarin orange. Be sure to check out Chef Jen’s recipe for clementine-inspired citrus grilled shrimp.
Health benefits: These are packed with essential vitamins and nutrients like Vitamin C, potassium and calcium—making clementines the perfect mini-immunity boosters for the dead of winter, when it’s often most difficult to stay healthy. Not to mention their folate content helps fight stress and depression, and are especially great for moms-to-be.
How to buy: Ripe clementines are soft and have a slightly flattened shape, should have a strong citrus scent and feel heavy for its size. Avoid ones with blemishes or that are hard.
Looking for a more exciting way to spice up your winter fruit regimen? Check out a list from Rodale’s Organic Life of more exotic winter fruits, which often pack even more vitamin C than the citrusy options above.
One of the lesser-favored vegetables of winter, Brussels sprouts often don’t get the love they deserve. A great source of protein, iron and potassium makes them an unexpected, bite-sized, leafy green power-hitter for your plate. Read on and be sure to take a look at Chef Jen’s mouthwatering Brussels sprouts and cranberries recipe.
Health benefits: You may be surprised to know that Brussels sprouts contain at least half the daily value of vitamin C, as well as healthy doses of fiber and folate which are often found in leafy green vegetables and help lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease and stroke. Brussels sprouts also contain an antioxidant compound known to help reduce the risk of cancer.
How to buy: Look for Brussels sprouts that are hard and compact when you squeeze them. Avoid ones that have spots or an odor. Note that smaller sprouts will be sweeter, while larger ones may taste more like cabbage.
Sweet potatoes (also known as yams), come in a variety of sizes and colors, including red, yellow and white, and are widely known as the healthier brother to the traditional yellow potato. For an ethnic dish that’s sure to please, check out Chef Jen’s spinach and sweet potato curry recipe.
Health benefits: Sweet potatoes are a great source of iron, beta carotene and magnesium, which make it a great anti-inflammatory choice, and powerful arthritis fighter. They are heart-healthy, full of fiber and promote healthy digestion, and can also help regulate blood sugar levels for diabetics. Read more about health benefits of yams here.
How to buy: Look for small to medium sized potatoes with smooth skin and minimal cuts, blemishes or soft spots.
Need even more inspiration? For more uncommon winter produce choices, check out Health.com’s list of forgotten winter fruits and veggies. For an even more robust list of in-season winter produce, check out Fruits and Veggies — More Matters website.