Winter is known for wonderful and cozy things like curling up in a blanket by the fire with a big cup of hot cocoa. It’s also known as the time when it becomes more challenging to find fresh and healthy food.
The chilly winter months can lead to less time outdoors and a lowered ability to make vitamin D. There is even neurological research that it’s our natural instinct to eat more to “fatten up” for the winter just like many animals.
In order to balance that hibernation feeling many of us get during the dark and cool months, a diet packed with nutrients and fresh flavors is essential.
When fruits and vegetables are fresh-picked and flash-frozen at the height of the season, they have excellent nutritional value.
Berries are one of the easiest things to miss during the winter, but frozen varieties can be used for smoothies and baking any time of the year.
Here’s one tip for right now – set reminders in your calendar for months of the year when your favorite produce is in season to freeze your own! I have reminders set for late June for strawberries, late July for blueberries, and late August for corn.
The Power of Canning
Jams are also a great substitute to fresh fruits. They have the fresh and sweet flavor without needing to worry about off-season texture. I’ve been eating my yogurt with granola and apricot jam all winter long.
Although many farms and farmer’s markets will close-up shop for the “off-season,” special winter markets and indoor options can help you shop locally. Check out my winter farmer’s market guide for details on making the most of the produce that is still available locally. Some of the top picks for what is available here in New Jersey are:
- Winter squash
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
What’s in Season Around the Country
The truth is, you can find almost any type of produce at any time of year with modern shipping technology. Now is the time to embrace your favorite items that are always imported like citrus (lemons, limes, oranges), bananas, and avocado. It’s also a great time to experiment with imports that are new and different like persimmon, pummelo, citron, and yuzu.