Selecting Seasonal Fruits & Vegetables
We all know the importance of eating more fruits and vegetables but there are additional benefits to choosing produce when it’s in season. Most importantly, seasonal fruits and vegetables have the best flavor and are often the least expensive during their growing peak. Plus, it’s better for our environment to eat seasonally. Depending on the climate where you live, some fruits and veggies may be available for shorter or longer periods of time, so here are some general tips on what is in season and when:
In most parts of the country, outdoor farmers markets are just opening up and selling the first signs of spring. Look for artichokes, asparagus, carrots, chives, green onions, fava beans, leeks, lettuce, parsnips, peas, radishes, rhubarb and Swiss chard.
Tasting tip: Cook leeks with carrots, parsnips, shelled fava beans or peas and then blend together for a simple, delicious soup.
During the warmest months, the variety of fruits and veggies is sky high. Look for apricots, berries, cherries, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, green beans, figs, grapes, melons, nectarines, onions, peaches, sweet and hot peppers, plums, summer squash, tomatoes and zucchini.
Tasting tip: Simply wash and enjoy raw!
The fall harvest usually includes Brussels sprouts, apples, dates, pears, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and winter squashes such as acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash.
Tasting tip: Chop and roast fall fruits and veggies for a sweeter flavor – plus, your kitchen will smell amazing!
Winter’s main produce features include citrus fruits, dark greens and root vegetables. Look for beets, turnips, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, collards, endive, kale, mustard greens, clementines, grapefruit, spinach, lemons, limes, oranges, and tangerines.
Tasting tip: Cook hearty greens with garlic and olive oil in a skillet; toss with whole wheat pasta or brown rice.
All year round:
These veggies are usually in season throughout the year: cabbage, carrots, garlic, onions, kale and mushrooms.
Tasting tip: Shred carrots, cabbage and onions. Toss with canola oil, apple cider vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar or a noncaloric sweetener for a tangy slaw.
Article copyright © 2012 American Heart Association. This article is brought to you by the American Heart Association’s Simple Cooking with Heart Program. For more articles and simple, quick and affordable recipes, visit heart.org/simplecooking.