Just because the polar vortex is back, doesn't mean you can't have fresh produce. Believe it or not, some fruits and veggies are in their prime this time of year. Sharon Richter, RD walks us through some of the best picks and the tastiest ways to serve them. Read on for her top 13 of the season!
Kale may be getting all the attention lately, but let some chicories into your life now. Not only are they packed with flavor (and folate), they're also hearty and ideal for cold weather meals. Mix up your greens with Belgian endive, frisée and escarole, and incorporate some purple radicchio into your salad too. The variety of color isn't just pleasing to the eye, it also means more vitamins for your body. If the slightly bitter taste of chicories isn't quite your thing, Richter suggests cooking with them: Add escarole to soup, try turkey or chicken salad wraps with radicchio and use Belgian endive to scoop up dips and spreads, she says.
2. Root Vegetables
High in fiber, veggies like parsnips, turnips, celery root and beets grow underground where they absorb lots of minerals from the soil. They're a healthy choice that even satisfies your sweet tooth. Richter gets a double dose by first roasting root vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then she blends leftovers with stock and some ginger for soup that hits the spot.
While it isn't super common in the United States, this low-calorie tuber is also known as the yambean, Mexican potato and Chinese turnip around the world. The mild, slightly nutty flavor and crunchy texture makes jicama quite versatile: Richter peels them and cuts them into sticks for a raw alternative to chips (with salsa!) or shreds and cubes them to toss into all sorts of salads.
4. Winter Squash
When it comes to comfort food that's also good for you, winter squash is where it's at. Load up on beta-carotene benefits by sampling the many shapes and sizes, from acorn to butternut to spaghetti and more. There are plenty of ways to prepare squash, but Richter points out you can also simply broil it or mash it along with garlic powder or Parmesan cheese.
Cabbage has gotten a bit of a bad rap over the years, so give it another chance if you're not a fan. Whether you opt for green, purple or white, the thick leaves will fill you up and may help fight cancer. Richter says roast it, stuff it or chop it in salad and your body will be thankful.
A cousin of broccoli, cauliflower is often overlooked. But you shouldn't forget about this cruciferous veggie -- it's a solid source of vitamin K and a great substitute for starch. Richter's favorite way to prep cauliflower is to purée it with low-fat milk and a little butter, but the many possibilities will seriously surprise you.
7. Chia Seeds
They may be tiny, but they pack a big punch. Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and are said to cut cravings. Richter whips up a superfood pudding with chia seeds and also sprinkles them on yogurt.
This decadent fruit has a lot to offer: magnesium, potassium and monounsaturated fats. Avocado may help reduce "bad" cholesterol, plus its heart-healthy fats allow you to absorb more nutrients from other foods. Beside guacamole, Richter's go-to methods are swapping it for butter on toast or slicing some in a salad, but do try it on sandwiches, in baked goods and even on your face.
9. Citrus Fruits
Fresh, juicy citrus fruits are at their peak this time of year, so load up! The flavonoids combat free radicals and help you absorb iron from other foods, so garnish your water with lemons and limes, throw oranges in a savory salad or broil grapefruit for dessert. (Richter cuts hers into sections so there are lots of caramelized layers.)
Did you know one kiwi has more vitamin C than an orange? It's true. Don't let any part of it go to waste either, because Richter advises leaving the skin on for extra fiber.
If you want to live longer, look no further than the pomegranate. While they might be a total pain to open, Richter believes it's worth learning how to de-seed them once and for all (she swears by doing it under water). Snack on the seeds alone or include them in appetizers and main courses alike.
Winter is perfect for pears, and you should grab some for their vitamin B2, E, copper and pectin. Richter recommends you eat them raw to help lower cholesterol or bake them for an elegant dinnertime twist.
13. Frozen Berries
Yes, it's freezing outside, and yes, they're available year-round, but berries are hard to beat. Since they were picked and frozen during their peak season, you'll get the most antioxidant bang for your buck. Top plain Greek yogurt with them or microwave the berries for a few seconds to make a syrup that's delicious on oatmeal and whole-grain waffles for breakfast, says Richter.
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