We all want to fill our plates with fruits and vegetables. That’s easy to do when the harvest is bursting at the end of summer, but what about in the depths of winter?
Seasonal Eating: Fall and Winter Vegetables You'll Love
Actually, you CAN find local, nutrient-dense fruit and vegetables in every season. It’s not only a healthier option than foregoing veggies or buying out-of-season produce—it will also taste better.
Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables really makes a difference.
Choosing fruit and vegetables in season means purchasing and consuming food around the time it is harvested. That almost always means choosing locally grown food, which is a boost to your local economy and farmers. Taken straight from the farm to your table means your fruit and veggies will have ripened on the vine, giving them better taste. It also allows them to grow to their full potential, with the maximum amount of nutrients.
Another reason to purchase food that is in season is its sustainability. Local produce doesn’t have to be shipped around the world, a process that is one of the most resource-heavy of the entire supply chain.
As it gets colder, you would think it would be more difficult to find fruit and vegetables in season. Thankfully, in most of the U.S. and elsewhere, that is not the case! There are dozens of produce options that can give your body much-needed nutrients when vitamin D from the sun is lacking.
Produce for late fall and early winter.
Make every fruit and vegetable count in the winter months. Your body needs the vitamins and nutrients they can offer more than ever.
10 of the healthiest winter vegetables.
- Kale. Kale actually prefers cooler weather and can even grow in snow! Just one cup of kale gives you the daily recommended amounts of vitamins A, C, and K, not to mention antioxidants.
- Brussels Sprouts. One of the nutrient-rich cruciferous vegetables, it can flourish in freezing temperatures. Look to brussel sprouts for vitamin K: essential for bone and heart health.
- Carrots reach their peak sweetness in fall and winter. They need a bit of a cold snap to convert their starches into sugars. The amount of vitamin A in one large carrot is around 241% of your daily recommended intake.
- Swiss Chard. Not only is Swiss chard high in nutrients, it’s low in calories. The betalains found in Swiss chard are also known to reduce inflammation and decrease oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which is one of the main causes of heart disease.
- Parsnips. These white veggies are similar in appearance to carrots, but with a unique, earthy sweetness. They also need cold to reach peak taste. They are high in fiber, great for digestive health.
- Collard Greens. Part of the brassica family, these are one of the most cold-hardy plants out there. Many people claim they taste better after being exposed to frost, and they’re packed with calcium.
- Rutabaga. All parts of a rutabaga can be eaten, even the leafy greens on top. They contain large amounts of potassium, important for heart and muscle function. One study even linked eating cruciferous vegetables like rutabagas to a decreased risk of developing heart disease.
- Red Cabbage is another cruciferous vegetable that loves the cold. It’s full of vitamins but boast an even better antioxidant content.
- Radishes. Spicy and crunchy, radishes can be added to many different dishes and are full of antioxidants and vitamins. Some studies are showing hopeful signs that radishes can help fight cancer, too.
- Parsley. Unlike most herbs, parsley can continue to grow even in snow. Parsley is an excellent way to consume flavonoids, which help with memory loss.
And don’t forget to stock up on hearty seasonal starches, including hard winter squash like butternut and spaghetti, sweet potatoes, and regular potatoes.
Ideal winter fruits.
Fruit is also available in the winter months. Here are four to add to your winter diet:
- Persimmons. A great source of fiber and vitamin C, they have a delightful cinnamony flavor.
- Pomegranate. The seeds can help lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. And they can be used in so many different ways. Hot tip: try dipping them in chocolate for a sweet treat.
- Grapefruit. A lovely source of fiber and vitamins A and C, grapefruit is one of those hardy citrus fruits that we all enjoy in the depths of winter.
- Clementines. A bowl of these on your countertop can disappear in minutes, as these little citrus delights are so delicious—and so full of vitamin C.
Incorporating more produce into your winter diet.
Many of us associate winter food with meat and potatoes or soups full of cream and cheese. While there’s nothing wrong with that, our bodies aren’t getting the vitamins and nutrients we need if we’re just eating carb-heavy potato soup every day.
Try swapping out some of those starchy foods for something fresher. Add kale and parsnips to your pasta. Choose eggplant ziti instead of regular pasta. Make sure you’re getting plenty of citrus—in your salads, as snacks, or as fresh fruit juice in the mornings. You’d be surprised at how many ideas you can find for winter produce and creating healthier comfort foods.
It’s easier than you think to have a healthy, seasonal diet in the winter. You can still pack your diet with fruit and vegetables that boost your immunity and keep your heart and bones healthy, with local, seasonal produce.