‘Tis the Season for Fresh, Winter Produce

Chilly weather, frosty air, scarves and gloves; winter is here.  It may seem like local produce would be hard to find during the cold weather, but don’t fret! There are some produce that continue to strive during the winter months. In season and local produce is always desirable for three reasons.

  1. Produce has reached optimal nutritional quality because farmers pick it at its peak.
  2. Produce is fresher and more flavorful when purchased locally.
  3. Supporting local farms helps them to continue supplying us with delicious, fresh produce.

Below is a list of some local, in season produce for December!

Potatoes (wax, Yukon gold, purple and sweet potatoes) can be obtained local during December. Potatoes contain B vitamins, Vitamin C, Iron and many other essential vitamins and minerals our body needs. Potatoes also include fiber to help obtain regular bowl movements, but make sure to keep the skin on! Sweet potatoes are a great source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C and have even more fiber then regular potatoes, which makes them a better choice if trying to better manage blood sugar.  Try having sweet potatoes as a delicious dessert. Cut the sweet potatoes into thin slices about ½ inch thick. Place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Brush on honey and cinnamon to taste. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until soft.

Squash (winter squash, Hubbard, acorn, pumpkin) Squash is a great source of Vitamin C along with tons of antioxidants to keep your body healthy. Squash is a delicious and versatile piece of produce that can be obtained in December. Squash can be used in a lasagna, soup or just simply cut in half sprinkled with olive oil, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and thyme for flavor. Stick it in the oven for 30 minutes until soft and enjoy!

Parsnips. Parsnips can be a great substitute for the ever so greasy French fries. Parsnips will need to be peeled and cut into slices similar to French fries. Season parsnips with salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary, and olive oil. Roast in oven until tender. Once tender, remove and add some more rosemary to taste!

Leeks. Leeks are a great addition to any meal. Place leeks in a hot skillet with two Tbsp. olive oil. Cook until browned. Leeks can be sautéed with any protein of your choosing like chicken, turkey, beef for a delicious onion-ey flavor.

Apples. Fresh, sliced apples can be added to salads, oatmeal, and cereal. Apples can also be baked with some honey and cinnamon for a delicious dessert.

Take all these delicious fruits and vegetables and make them your own this winter!

Jennifer Seleem is a registered dietitian/nutritionist with the Institute for Weight Loss at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center-Old Bridge. The Institute provides weight loss surgery and support for individuals seeking weight loss and have been unable to lose weight through conventional dieting, exercise or weight loss medication. To attend a free seminar, which occurs twice monthly, or to make an appointment with Jennifer for nutrition counseling, call 855-TIME-4-ME. For more information on local seasonal produce visit this site: http://jerseyfresh.nj.gov/tips/jerseyfreshseasonalitychart.html.

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