Get your fruits and veggies even when the snow’s flying and the temperature plummets
Getting a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables is important all year long. It’s even more important during the winter months when cold and flu viruses come out to play in full force and holiday parties seem to be never-ending. The vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables keep your immune system strong to help keep sickness at bay.
Sister seasons provide an abundance of bright colorful produce, while in the winter months you get deeper hues. These deep colors can still provide the same amount of nutrition as their sister seasons, you just have to know what you are looking for – that is where we can help.
OhioHealth dietitians Jenalee Richner, RD, LDN, and Sarah Tombo, RDN, LD, share some tips for how to get delicious produce you need in the winter months.
Go With What’s in Season
Believe it or not, there is an abundance of fresh produce that’s harvested during the winter months in certain areas to receive the highest freshness. For instance, Florida’s oranges grow best in winter temperatures.
Although winter-harvested produce at your local grocer is likely not from an Ohio farmer, they’re just as nutrient-dense as those grown in the summer. Here are some in-season winter options to pick from:
- Brussels sprouts
- Snow peas
- Sweet potatoes
- Winter squash
- Mandarin oranges
Go With Frozen
Frozen fruits and vegetables may not have that fresh-picked look, but they’re picked at peak ripeness and flash-frozen in order to maintain nutrient content and taste.
Frozen vegetables maintain their freshness in the freezer for long periods of time, meaning you can buy them in bulk and always have a supply on hand. This is great for your wallet and your overall health! They are also perfect for your soup, stew, stir-fry, smoothie and crockpot recipes. If you are going this route, always check the ingredient list near the back label to be sure the fruit or vegetable is the only ingredient in the package.
Go With Canned
For many families, canned goods are a staple in the pantry. A wide range of fruits and vegetables come conveniently packaged in cans. However, cans have been known for containing Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that’s been linked to cancer and birth defects.
The good news? More manufacturers are using cans with BPA-free linings, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says BPA that may occur in canned food is safe at the current levels.
When eating canned vegetables and fruits, be sure to watch for high salt content and added sugar. Choose low-salt and sugar-free options, and be sure to drain and rinse before using them.
Try a CSA or Imperfect Produce Box
A Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) or an imperfect produce box are two wonderful ways to add in to keep your fridge filled with fresh fruits and vegetables all year long, even during the winter.
A CSA helps to support local agriculture and travel very little to get to your kitchen table! One great option to check out in Central Ohio is Yellowbird Foodshed.
Imperfect produce boxes provide the opportunity to help reduce food waste and are delivered right to your door. You can find options for these boxes in Central Ohio through Perfectly Imperfect Produce, or Misfits Market.