MN Fall & Winter Produce
MN Fall and Winter – and how to keep it nutritious!
Being a true Minnesotan, I always look forward to the season change, especially for those long-awaited flavors that always taste better in the fall – pumpkin, nutmeg, apple, cinnamon, along with all the hot beverages, and classic holiday and wintertime meals. The downside is having our harvest season come to an end and the several months ahead without fresh local produce from our beloved weekly CSA! Finding the balance between nutritious foods, and indulging in those, oh so favorite (especially holiday) foods often lead to less fruit and vegetable intake. But it certainly doesn’t have to! So how do we keep up our nutrition transitioning into a new season, with changes in availability and variety, and indulging in our seasonal favorites? We must retrain our brain to think outside of the box when it comes to meal planning and grocery shopping, and up our VARIETY! And I’m not just talking about different winter varieties, I am referring to what form we are purchasing our fruits and vegetables – dried, canned, and frozen!
We’ve commonly heard that shopping the perimeter is best, but did you know, there are many missed nutritious foods by doing so? Shopping habits naturally change with seasons, and it is not always easy (or within our budget) to buy produce when our options have gone from plentiful to limited. That’s why strolling down a new isle or two in the grocery store is always a good idea – making our pantry, refrigerator, and freezer more diverse and leading to new meal and snack ideas. For instance, maybe you pick up some dried green beans or investigate the dried fruit options. You begin to think about adding more canned or frozen vegetables into your dishes and opt for those summer berries in frozen form. Your spice rack gets a makeover and you familiarize with how to make vegetables more enticing to you and the whole family. Experimenting with new foods is important as many staple winter meals incorporate lots of noodles and cream soups (I am just as guilty!), and it is not uncommon for vegetables to take a hiatus from our menu during the cooler months – especially if you have picky eaters in your family!
Here are some tips to follow when looking for different varieties - dried, canned, and frozen:
· Look for canned fruits that are in 100% juice, are unsweetened, or have no added sugar. Remember, packaging can be misleading. To ensure you are getting what you want, read the ingredients label! If you need to review how to read a label, click here.
· Watch out for any added salt. This would typically be found in canned vegetable items. Always rinse vegetables before adding to your meal.
· When purchasing frozen, reach for plain vegetables, ones that have no added cheese or butter. You can flavor at home when preparing!
· Frozen fruit – grab the variety that has no added sugar. Fruit is sweet enough just as it is!
· Not only should we be reading the label on our frozen fruits, we also need to read the label on dried fruits – as they may have added sugar.
What fruits and vegetables are in-season?
Now with the wonderful weekly recipes coming to an end, I am making a shift in planning and am thinking in terms of what is in-season. Luckily, there are still several vegetables and fruits available that won’t give us sticker shock. One being the cruciferous vegetable family, consisting of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussels sprouts! These foods are packed with immune boosting nutrients and can be prepared in so many ways, and in an array of dishes. If these are not a favorite, look for select squashes, radishes, rutabagas, onions, and parsnips. Easy to find fruits during our cooler months include grapefruit, oranges, cranberries, apples, pears, and lemons. You can be guaranteed to find these in the local grocery store! Incorporating common winter fruits and vegetables, into new or traditional family meals, holiday dishes, or even a late-night snack, just may be the ticket to help keep up your nutrition!
Keeping it up!
Often (being creatures of habit) it can be difficult to change up our day to day intake or make the switch to new foods, especially if winter fruits and vegetables are not a favorite. Take this as a challenge, make note of new foods, what you liked, what you didn’t, how you prepared them, and what you incorporated in (the entire recipe). Remember, there is more than one way to prepare a food. If you didn’t like it the first time, try it again, or opt for the alternative - dried, canned, or frozen 😉
A BIG thank you to the Brown Family Farm allowing me the opportunity to connect with you all, and of course, providing outstanding produce to our local community all season long!
Have a happy season!