Seasonal foods and seasonal eating are something that have almost become a fashion statement. For the purposes of this article, we are going to focus on seasonal foods that are affordable and easy to make! We also want to keep in mind that COVID-19 is still among us and doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon. This could mean limiting the number of grocery trips you make each week or month.
Winter is prime-time for many delicious fruits and vegetables that aren’t available in the summer. I live in Toronto, where the temperatures in winter can get down to -4°F, so our crops look vastly different once the temperatures drop! By incorporating more seasonal food like winter veggies and fruits, you help to boost your immune system during cold and flu season, which is super important now that we are entering a new wave of COVID-19.
Not only are these a nutritious seasonal food, but they are also extremely convenient. Full of fiber, Vitamin C, Potassium, and Vitamin K, there aren’t many downsides to eating an apple a day. They can help with weight loss, they help to lower blood cholesterol levels, and may even have prebiotic effects that help to promote good gut bacteria.
Autumn is the best season to go apple picking, and the choices are endless: Gala, Honeycrisp, Empire, Jonathan, Cortland, Jonagold, and the list goes on! Try them all!
“A medium apple — with a diameter of about 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) — equals 1.5 cups of fruit. Two cups of fruit daily are recommended on a 2,000-calorie diet.” – Healthline
You don’t have to celebrate Halloween to enjoy pumpkins! I love that you can get good-quality pumpkin in a can (look for a sugar-free version!) without having to buy an entire pumpkin, roast it, and cut it up yourself. I’m not lazy, I’m just economical with my time! With a whopping 87% of your Vitamin A intake in this one seasonal food, pumpkin ensures your body’s natural defense against illness and infection works properly, improves your vision, and helps keep your skin healthy and bright. If you don’t want to buy the canned version, a good pumpkin should feel heavy for its size and be free from blemishes. The pumpkin’s shape doesn’t matter, just choose one with a stem that is 1–2 inches in length to avoid early decay.
I personally love these all year ‘round, and you may recognize them best on top of delicious seasonal desserts like pumpkin pie, butter tarts, or muffins, but these pack quite the nutritional punch. With their crunchy texture and buttery flavor, these don’t need all the extra sugar in order to be enjoyed. Pecans contain more antioxidants than any other tree nut. They also contain vitamins and minerals such as manganese, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium, so they’re also a great immune-booster! Raw or roasted, most people can agree these nuts are delicious (unless you’re allergic), but one thing I know a lot of people can’t agree on: is it pronounced pee-can or peh-kahn?
These cute sprouts are part of the Brassica family, along with other cruciferous vegetables like kale, cauliflower, and broccoli. They look like tiny cabbages! When at a market or grocery store, look for tightly closed green leaves. If they are yellow, they are most likely past their prime. High in fiber, full of antioxidants like vitamin C, and loaded with folate and potassium, these baby cabbages are a seasonal food that will keep you fuller longer and boost your immune system. These can be baked, boiled, or cut up raw and thrown on a salad for different flavors and textures.
This green leafy vegetable is one of my favorites because it doesn’t have an overpowering flavor. This makes it super versatile! I personally love it in smoothies or as a gluten-free and carb-free wrap. It’s great eaten raw or cooked. Just one cup provides over three times the recommended daily allowance of vitamin K and 44% of the recommended amount of Vitamin A, which makes it one of the ultimate seasonal foods for the winter. The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology published a study in 2013 that found foods that are high in dietary nitrates, like Swiss chard, have multiple vascular benefits, one of them being a reduction in blood pressure.
This vegetable is usually in season from December until February, perfect timing for those winter seasonal foods. Part of the Brassica family, it is nutritionally loaded with vitamins A, K, C, and B6. This anti-inflammatory superfood is a great addition to salads, smoothies, or lightly fried, baked, or massaged in oil! There are different kinds you can get. My personal favorite is dinosaur kale (Lacinato kale), because of its long, flat leaves, versus green kale’s curlier leaves.
Citric fruits are known for their Vitamin C content. In fact, one orange is all you need for your daily dose of vitamin C. For those who are looking to lower their calories but still want something sweet, look no further. Oranges, Grapefruit, and Pomelo are low in calories and high in nutritional value. Although they are in season from November through January, these fruits are often available year-round. I think they are great on their own, on the grill, or chopped up in a warm winter mulled wine!
Vitamin C is vital in a healthy diet. If you aren’t a big fan of citrus fruits try a supplement such as this one.
It’s in the name! Squash is one of the perfect seasonal foods for warm and comforting dishes as the temperatures cool down. They keep well through the winter, so they’re great to keep around while you think of what you’ll make. Just like apples, there are tons of varieties to choose from: Acorn, Banana, Buttercup, Butternut, Delicata, Kabocha, Spaghetti, and more. Technically, Pumpkin is a winter squash, but it’s delicious enough to deserve its own category. Roasted, steamed, and used for decorations, these make great soups, side dishes, or cut up and frozen for later use. They actually super freeze very well so they can be stored for months!
While antioxidants can be found in many fruits and vegetables, an in vitro study at UCLA found that pomegranate juice has, on average, more antioxidant capacity than red wine, grape juice, or green tea! What a great option for seasonal foods!
When I’m feeling bougie, I open up a can of La Croix and toss in a handful of pomegranate seeds. But how do you open a pomegranate? It’s intimidating until you’ve tried it! The easiest way to open pomegranates is to roll it on a cutting board to loosen the seeds first. Then position your pom in the middle of the cutting board. Start by cutting off the top part that looks like a flower. Then slice the pom in half! You can then tap out the seeds with a knife or your hand. It’s worth the work, trust me!
What are your favorite seasonal foods in winter? Let me know your favorite meals that help you stay warm and cozy. I know it’s an unpopular opinion, but I thrive in the winter thanks to these hearty foods. I hope you can find something exciting from my list to take with you to your next grocery store adventure!