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Health Benefits of Winter Fruits and Vegetables

Nov 22, 2011

I pulled this off someone else's blog because I like to know what I'm getting out of all those delicious fruits and veggies this time of year. Read below to see what you may be missing out on, and for some delicious recipes so you have no excuse NOT to include them in your diet...
I’ve noticed that since the temperature cooled, I’ve been having a hard time finding good produce. I’ve also been eating a lot less fruit, probably because my favorite fruits and vegetables-peppers, tomatoes, corn, and berries-all peak in the summer months. I decided to make the change to eating local, in-season produce because buying produce at the peak of its season is supposed to make it tastier and richer in nutrients.

Before I hit up the farmers’ market this weekend, I did a little research to find out which fruits and vegetables are in season and what kind of health benefits they provide. Here is what I bought and some new recipes I’m going to try:

1) Kale: Kale is a leafy green that is packed with vitamins C and K, beta carotene, iron, calcium, and other nutrients. It is also thought to have cancer-prevention properties. I love spinach sautéed with garlic and olive oil and people say that this is also an excellent way to prepare kale.

2) Cauliflower: Cauliflower contains lots of vitamin C, folate, and fiber, as well as several phytochemicals that promote breast and prostate health. Cauliflower also comes in many colors, including purple and orange. I was nervous about buying this because I’m not a big fan of the broccoli or cauliflower flavors, but my friends makes this really yummy, cheesy cauliflower casserole. I found a similar recipe at for Cauliflower Parmesan Gratin.

3) Pears: I didn’t grow up eating pears, so I never think to buy them, but I had one at my friend’s house over Thanksgiving and I loved it. This is good news for me because I don’t like most winter fruits. Pears provide a great dose of vitamins A, C, and E1 and also copper and potassium. I like pear sliced over salad with goat cheese and walnuts or mixed with Greek yogurt and honey.

4) Mushrooms: I love mushrooms so I was excited to hear that they’re a really important part of a vegetarian diet. Mushrooms provide riboflavin, niacin, and selenium, key nutrients that are found primarily in animal proteins. They are also the only fresh vegetable or fruit that contains vitamin D. Look for chantrelle or cremini (portabella) mushrooms this time of year. I like to make lasagna and replace the meat with sautéed mushrooms and onions. This recipe for Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Portabella Caps also sounds incredible.

5) Winter Squash: Even though I cook all of the time with summer squash, I find winter squash a little intimidating. It just seems harder to prepare. However, squash is high in vitamin A and fiber and low in calories, so I decided to give it a try. suggests just cutting it in half, scooping out the seeds, and roasting it, which sounds simple enough. I will probably also try this Squash and Leek Lasagna.

What kind of fruits and vegetables do you enjoy this time of year?



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