What to Eat This Winter
Enjoy the Season's Freshest Foods
-- By Liza Barnes, Health Educator
But eating locally in February? Can it be done? Absolutely! Surprisingly, there are a number of foods that make winter their season, and if you stock up on these basics, cooking satisfying, fresh, and wholesome meals in the dead of winter will be a breeze. In any other season, this would be as simple as making a trip to your local farmer’s market to stock up on the essentials. But many farmers’ markets close down for the winter. In this season of scarcity, you’ll probably need to call around to find a local farm that sells produce throughout the cold months. Check out www.FoodRoutes.org for a list of farms near you.
Once you find a source and make over your pantry for winter, all that’s left is stirring and savoring. Availability will vary from region to region, but here's a general list of foods that make winter their season, along with tips on how to incorporate these ingredients into your meals.
- Kale. This hearty green is a rich source of minerals (including calcium), and although it is available year-round, it actually tastes the sweetest in the winter. To eat, wash leaves thoroughly and tear them into small pieces—discarding the touch stem. Place in a steamer and steam until tender (five minutes). Sauté in garlic butter or olive oil; sprinkle with soy sauce; or toss right into a hot bowl of soup to boost its nutritional content.
- Leeks. A mild-flavored member of the onion family—and essential ingredient in potato-leek soup—this winter vegetable adds delicious flavor to many recipes. Try them in your favorite winter stew.
- Radicchio. A type of bitter lettuce, radicchio can be grilled or used in salads.
- Radishes. Most commonly used in green salads and vegetable trays, this spicy root vegetable can also be cooked as a side dish. Thinly slice radishes and steam them until tender. Then sauté steamed radishes in butter with a few cloves of garlic, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a sprinkle of dried dill weed.
- Rutabaga. Another root vegetable, try mashed rutabagas instead of mashed potatoes.
- Turnips. These spicy root vegetables can be braised, sautéed, pickled, sun-dried, or roasted. As a rule, smaller turnips are usually tastier than large ones.