Due to industrial farming practices and the sunny climate of California and Mexico, you can often find produce year-round at your local grocer. However, we all know that some of our favorite fruits and vegetables are only at their best during the warmer months and when grown nearby.
Don’t believe us? Just sink your teeth into an heirloom tomato grown in your own summer garden, then compare that to a “vine-ripened tomato” from your local grocery in the dead of winter. The flavor will not compare.
Flavor, texture, and nutritional value go hand in hand. Our bodies are drawn to fruits and vegetables because they pack a nutritional punch. When plants get lots of natural sunlight, rain, and are grown in good soil, they tend to pack a punch. So of course we enjoy produce when it’s at the peak of seasonal fortitude. While you can still enjoy any fruits and vegetables, here is a look at the fruits and vegetables that do surprisingly well during the winter months and you should consider adding to your shopping list.
Brassica is a family of winter-hardy plants that generally thrive around the year. Brassicas include:
- Brussels sprouts.
- Collard greens.
These vegetables have a long history in cold climates throughout Eastern Europe and Russia, having carried peasant farmers through cold lean months due to their cold-month harvest schedule.
Brassicas are also incredibly nutritious. As nutrient-dense as any other vegetable of any season, brassicas are mostly dark green and leafy, signaling that they contain a complex array of vitamins and minerals. Most brassicas can be used raw in salads, cooked till tender in soups, baked with spices for satisfying pairings with meats and grains, or even juiced for beverages and smoothies.
You can grow these vegetables in your winter garden or can be purchased from any farmer’s market in your area. This is where you’ll find the best quality and optimal nutritional value. Fortunately, the stuff at the grocery store is usually pretty good too.
Root vegetables mature in the winter because they store up their nutrients through the warmer parts of the year. This is why root veggies are so high in starch, an energy-dense carbohydrate. Humans can also use starch for energy, but fortunately, this is not the only kind of nutrition that root vegetables bring to the table. Carrots of almost all shapes, colors, and sizes flourish in the winter. Rutabagas, parsnips, and turnips also have a lot to offer. Shaved raw onto salads, stewed, or baked with meat and other veggies, root vegetables are colorful and nutritious, especially at this time of year.
The United States is so large and climate-diverse that there are places like Florida and California that can grow delicious fruits throughout the year. Some of these fruits also travel relatively well and won’t lose their taste, texture, or nutritional value on their journey to your grocer.
All of these wonderful fruits are almost always at their peak in the deep South and West. Just try to look for fruits that didn’t have to travel too far to reach you.
Supplements for Winter Nutrition
If you don’t have a good selection of produce near you or you didn’t set up a winter garden, you may want to supplement your diet during the cold months.
We can recommend a few different powdered nutritional products. Pro Red Antioxidant Drink Mix from Nutritional Frontiers, NanoReds 10 from Biopharma, and Lean Meal Illumin8 Superfood Shake from Sunwarrior included real-food nutrition derived from fruits, vegetables, and other natural sources to help fill nutritional gaps, no matter how cold it is outside.