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 delish.com 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. Delish.com 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?