Kick Start the New Year with Healthy, Fresh Produce

The holiday’s have come and gone. For me, that means two things: winter and tax season. Depressing, right? Call it a New Year’s Resolution, but instead of continuing with my normal winter routine of moping around until Memorial Day, I’m making it a priority to remain positive, active and really make the next few months as productive as possible. How? Ok, still working on ironing out the details, but one area of focus is in the kitchen.

Cooking! I’m not a great cook, but I’m going to work on it and practice over the next few months. First things first, I needed to find out which fruits and veggies were actually in season this time of year. Turns out, there’s a lot of great produce during the winter months. Here are some of my personal favorites, along with recipes using the produce:

Beets

Beets contain antioxidants called betalains, which can help fight cancer and other degenerative diseases. They’re also rich in vitamins A, B, C as well as potassium and folate. Amazing!

When shopping for beets, look for crisp and bright green leaves and richly colored roots which should feel firm and smooth. On the flip side, smaller beets will be more tender than larger ones.

Kale
Full disclosure, I’m not one of those ‘all hail kale’ people. I’ve had it, but it certainly hasn’t been in my regular arsenal of food go-tos. It’s no surprise why it’s so popular though. It’s high in iron, fiber, calcium, and vitamins A, C and K. Kale is also filled with antioxidants.

When picking out kale in the grocery store look for dark bunches with small to medium leaves. See yellow and brown – steer clear. When you get home, store it in the coldest part of your fridge.

Fun Fact: Thomas Jefferson grew kale!

Celeriac
Also known as celery root. I’ve actually never eaten celeriac until a few weeks ago, and it wasn’t bad! Celeriac boasts a tasty, subtle flavor, somewhere between parsley and celery. It’s low in calories, high in fiber, and rich in vitamin C and phosphorus (which contributes to strong bones and teeth).

Carrots

Carrots are filled with the antioxidant beta-carotene, a compound that our bodies convert to vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for a strong immune system and healthy eyes, skin, and mucus membranes.

If you see carrots sold in bunches, with their leafy tops still attached, make sure the greens are bright and not wilted. Once you get them home, store carrots in an unsealed plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Fun Fact: carrots come in a variety of colors beyond orange, including purple!

Citrus
I always associated citrus with summer but, according to research, these fruits are at their ripest and juiciest in the winter/colder months. Lots of varieties fall under the citrus category including clementines, tangerines, ruby red grapefruit and blood oranges to name a few.

Another bonus of citrus: extremely nutritious. For example, one medium orange packs more than 100 percent of the recommended daily dose for vitamin C. Vitamin C will help calm those colds we’re all getting this time of year.

If you have recipes that incorporate the winter produce mentioned in this blog, please share in the comments section!

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